Olive writes that "the interior lives of [Neel's] subjects peer out at us from within their surfaces. Neel's uncanny ability to capture her subjects psychological states in the moments they sat in front of her reads intensely in person. The personalities reveal themselves through Neel's fluid handling of paint; stories unfolding, lives and past moments cascading into the present. I immediately wanted to know more about the lives of the people she was surrounded by."
Bregman writes that Neel's "depictions are at once traditionally representational and non-traditionally provocative, with the images of her neighbors, friends, family, and other New Yorkers portrayed in a way that questions the confines of socioeconomics and heteronormativity. By depicting her own unconventional life, the portraits of her friends and family took on a greater societal significance that continues to resonate on view today."
Nancy Natale examines Phoebe Hoban's book Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty. "Hoban's book traces all of Neel's "quintessential bohemian" life while proposing her as the archetype of women's coming into their own: 'Neel's life is not just the saga of a great American painter; it is a great American saga... the life of an independent woman who was first and foremost an artist.' "
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.