In 1962, Alice Neel (1900 – 1984) moved to her final apartment and studio on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Delimited by what was visible through a north-facing window, this scene in 107th and Broadway (1976) excludes the streets below that give the painting its title. Indeed, this absence animates the composition, whose dominant feature is the crisp shadow cast by the cusped moldings and straight edges of Neel’s apartment block on the whitewashed building across the street. The presence of people, too, is discernable only indirectly through the half-opened windows and partially shuttered blinds. Capturing the effects of sharp light on a hot summer day, this window onto the world becomes the occasion for a painterly exploration of color, form and structure.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Alice Neel: People Come First, Which Continues Through August 1st, 2021 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan.