Wednesday, May 16, 2007

have you ever been experienced?

JD and I went to see the Alice Neel documentary at the Cinema Village on Sunday, and then we walked to the park and sat and talked about it for an hour and a half. Here are some thoughts:

Alice Neel was brilliant and an empath. She empathized with fish in a fishtank to the point of desperate tearfulness.

She was not a happy person, said she was "serving her sentence" rather than jumping out the window. But she left the world with dozens of incredible paintings. Maybe happiness is beside the point?

Each painting captured something about its era, but they also seem incredibly fresh and alive, even today... although I'm not sure why or even what that means...

There's an interview with Robert Storr where he talks about photography as a "morbid" slice of time, versus Neel's experience of a person over a longer period of time, the specific nuance and gesture of the sitter.

She did what she wanted to do in life, outside of prescribed gender strictures. She lived as if sexism and misogyny didn't exist, and in some ways paid a price for it.

She had several children fathered by different men; the kids suffered from neglect because mom was so busy with her painting... she maybe shouldn't have had kids?

She was operating outside of the mainstream of accepted painting strictures. The movie villainized ab-ex painters... to Neel it must have seemed like an unyielding, spattery wall that she couldn't breach.

Is it more important to contextualize your work & open yourself up to outside influence & change, or better to stubbornly stick to your vision, even if it's unfashionable?

Quick, Go see this movie.