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David Bourdon and Gregory Battcock

Alice Neel American

Not on view

David Bourdon (1934–1998) was an editor at Life magazine and one of several art-world professionals Neel engaged to paint. Gregory Battcock (1937–1980), an art critic, educator, and activist, was Bourdon’s friend, colleague, and likely occasional intimate partner. Connected only by the lines Neel painted to suggest wainscoting, the pair are a study in opposites. Bourdon sits upright and alert with hair neatly coiffed, as if ready for an office meeting. An unshaven and tousled Battcock, a sex-positive proponent of polyamory, appears wearing only underwear and socks and staring blankly into space. Neel later recalled that Bourdon recommended that she paint Battcock this way, perhaps due to his habit of lounging and working at home in his underwear. Viewers of the painting who knew Battcock to be a debonair, intellectual bon vivant would have been particularly amused by his appearance here.

David Bourdon and Gregory Battcock, Alice Neel (American, Merion Square, Pennsylvania 1900–1984 New York), Oil on canvas

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