Alice Neel - Contemporary Art Part II New York Friday, May 14, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot, by American artist Alice Neel, is a stunning example of the enigmatic force and haunting quality that so define the artist’s mature realist style. Neel, a powerful figure in 20th century post-modern art not just as a successful female artist but as a dedicated figurative painter in an age where the avant-garde dominated critical theory and popular opinion, helped to redefine the notion of representing the “real” in painting.
    This work of a child aged six captures the quiet intelligence and curiousness of the child while projecting a strong psychological tension of sexual ambiguity. At first glance, the child appears to be a young boy but after further contemplation of the compositional elements, as well as reflecting upon the title, proves Sabrina to be a thoughtful and defiant child. Here, Sabrina is painted in Neel’s famous sitting chair where the likes of the artist’s modern day contemporaries such as Andy Warhol sat for portraits. As was practice throughout her career, the artist strove for dynamism through imperfect pairing; nowhere is her use of unequal doubles more apparent than in her treatment of eyes, such as Sabrina’s, which never exactly mirror each other. For Neel, the gender ambiguity and unique maturity her sitter offered her was a vehicle through which she could record the manners and mannerisms of a particular moment in time, a form of “writing history.” Her portraits, such as Sabrina, not only capture the body, posture, and physiognomy of individuals; they “embodied” the character of an era.




Oil on canvas.

38 x 25 in. (96.5 x 63.5 cm).

Signed and dated “Neel 76” lower left.

$150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $308,500

Contemporary Art Part II

14 May 2010
New York