Great Washington Museums: The National Portrait Gallery

Great Washington Museums Celebrate Great Women Artists is a NMWA-organized collaborative city-wide project highlighting works by women artists. During 2012, institutions throughout the Washington area are featuring an array of signature works by women artists that have enriched their distinguished collections. This landmark program, in conjunction with NMWA’s 25th anniversary celebration, continues NMWA’s dedication to celebrating women’s achievements in the visual, performing, and literary arts. This excerpt explores one of the National Portrait Gallery’s signature works by a woman artist, Alice Neel’s Self-Portrait. Visit www.nmwa.org and download the pdf map to begin your journey!

Alice Neel, Self-Portrait, 1980

Alice Neel, Self-Portrait, 1980; Oil on canvas, 57 x 43 x 2 framed; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, © Estate of Alice Neel, 1980; NPG.85.19

At the age of seventy-five, Alice Neel began this shocking, endearing, and unconventional portrait, a project that took another five years to complete. A striking challenge to the centuries-old convention of idealized femininity, Neel’s only painted self-portrait is wonderfully suggestive of the artist’s bohemian, bawdy character. On view indefinitely.

National Portrait Gallery, 800 F St., NW; www.npg.si.edu.