Influential figurative painter whose emotionally intense portraits express her subjects' inner lives. Her 1935 painting "Alice Neel And John Rothschild In The Bathroom" exemplifies the subversive, sexual themes that pervaded her work.
She attended the Philadelphia School of Design for Women so as to avoid being tempted by the opposite sex. She worked a clerical job to support her family and to save money for art school.
She painted portraits of friends, lovers, Communist Party officials, and complete strangers.
Her family had very traditional views: her mother told her that she shouldn't expect much from life since she was born a girl. The death of her one-year-old daughter from diphtheria greatly influenced her work.
She and Albert Ryder were both American painters.