Henry Geldzahler

Alice Neel American

Not on view

Henry Geldzahler (1935–1994) was instrumental in establishing the Department of Contemporary Art at The Met in 1967. That same year, Neel painted this portrait of him, possibly hoping to forge a connection with a younger generation of curators and participate more actively in New York’s contemporary art scene. She shows the art historian with knees crossed and one arm slung over the back of his chair. Neel, who was fond of incorporating very subtle codes or cues into her painting, extends his pinky finger and surrounds him with a lavender halo, possible references to his sexuality. For his part, Geldzahler, who generally favored large-scale abstract art by men, believed initially that Neel’s work was not "modern" enough, but later embraced it in the 1980s.

Henry Geldzahler, Alice Neel (American, Merion Square, Pennsylvania 1900–1984 New York), Oil on canvas

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