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Pregnant Woman

Alice Neel American

Not on view

"Plastically," Neel once claimed, "[pregnancy] is very exciting." Perhaps this is the reason she painted so many expectant mothers, including her daughter-in-law Nancy, near the ends of their pregnancies, when their bodies were at their most unruly and their curves at their most dramatic. The sofa on which Nancy lies is just a barely articulated outline with a bit of green and brown to create a sense of volume. Hovering above her right arm is a painting of her then-husband, Neel’s son Richard, his head left as incomplete and partial as the furniture. As feminist art historian Cindy Nemser, seen in a double portrait with her husband in this same section, once said admiringly, Neel’s pregnant nudes defy "the comforting mystique of childbearing" and dwell on the "very unnaturalness [of] incipient motherhood."

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

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