Alice Neel is an artist I have always felt a strong affinity for. She is someone who not only kept realism alive through the last Century but portrait painting as well. Her paintings have a tremendous ability to show the personality of the sitter. She said about herself that she would have made a great psychiatrist but painting was more interesting for her. She painted all kinds of people. She was not looking for people who were pretty, she was looking for people that were interesting, people who moved her and that seemed to be just about anyone who crossed her path.
When people speak about Alice Neel and her art they almost always mention her role within the feminist movement. When she was young there were very few women artists who were taken seriously. In fact her own success came to her very late in life. Women were expected to take care of children and keep house and along comes Alice who wanted to make her painting the main thing in her life and went about doing just that. Now she stands out in history as a somewhat tragic figure for what she suffered through the course of pursuing her art making.
You can learn more about Alice by watching the documentary on her life and work simply called Alice Neel.