Alice Neel
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Portrait painter Alice Neel (1900-1984) was a self-described collector of souls who recorded her sitters on canvas through six decades of the 20th century, among them Andy Warhol, Bella Abzug, Allen Ginsberg and Annie Sprinkle. Neel always sought the "authentic," moving from Greenwich Village to Spanish Harlem just as the Village was gaining reputation in the art scene. She sacrificed almost everything for her art, delving so far into the psyches of her sitters she would almost lose herself. Yet Neel was also a dedicated mother, raising two sons in the bohemian world she inhabited.

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The finely crafted Alice Neel is at once tribute, investigative journalism and messy family drama."
‑ Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times
"So many people speak onscreen, from so many folds of Neel's life, that, despite captions, the viewer feels taxed to keep straight their identities and relationships to Neel."
‑ Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle
"Directed with great feeling and in a nonjudgmental way."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"A decent warm-up to a more robust documentary that'll never be made."
‑ Mark Keizer, Boxoffice Magazine
"[It's] more than a mere biography of an important 20th-century artist: It's also an intimate portrait of a family member that questions whether or not 'great artist' and 'good parent' can ever be combined in the same person."
‑ Ken Fox, TV Guide's Movie Guide
"There is a great deal more to Alice's story: the avant-garde of the 1920s; the government's support of artists during the Great Depression; the feminist movement of the 1970s, during which she became an icon. This rich film captures it all."
‑ Tom Keogh, Seattle Times
"For all the juicy storytelling, Alice Neel remains, in this film, a cipher: brash, grandmotherly, and beyond understanding."
‑ Cate McQuaid, Boston Globe
"There's much pungent detail on offer here, chronicling Neel's unorthodox lifestyle in Cuba and Spanish Harlem, and the struggles she had in an era when abstract painting was triumphant; all of which is given a little more edge than you might expect."
‑ Andrew Pulver, Guardian
"A surprisingly dense, multilayered documentary on the painter Alice Neel."
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"If the artist is an elusive target, the art is as sharp as a razor blade. The portraits are extraordinary."
‑ Jonathan F. Richards,
"The effect is spirited rather than incriminating and, bolstered by Jonah Rapino's contemplative score, as piercingly detailed as one of Alice's mesmerizing portraits."
‑ Mark Holcomb, Time Out New York
"This documentary by the artist's grandson Andrew Neel, delves into the life and imagination of Alice Neel, the defiant pioneering, cutting edge, raunchy and prolific late artist."
‑ Prairie Miller, NewsBlaze
"Alice Neel offers a relatively objective view of a person who, seeing life as a sentence to be served, spent it doing the thing she loved."
‑ Bill White, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
More reviews for Alice Neel on Rotten Tomatoes