(1908 – 1995 )
From the Cubist-influenced compositions of his earlier Hofmann student years, McNeil moved to full abstraction by 1936. His early 1950s paintings were “both abstract and expressionist” with an active surface ” very moving, full of feeling, emotional”displaying the “painterly touch” that was identified with the artists exhibiting at the Charles Egan Gallery. His paintings remained fully abstract until the early 1960s when figures and faces began to appear in the abstract field, particularly in the “Dancer” and “Bather” series. McNeil commented to art historian Irving Sandler in 1968:
my work has always had not a human figure image, but it always had a figural image. There always seems to be some kind of center image…that is figural, or imagistic…. [The figure] is not only found: it’s completely abstract. You see this is the whole thing: I’m not a figure painter at all. I’m an abstract painter where I hope that bringing in the figure brings in certain human or psychological connotations or associations.
McNeil’s work evolved from the post-cubist abstract expressionism of his Hofmann School days, through the figurative expressionism of his mid-career during the 1960’s and 1970’s, to emerge as full-blown neo-expressionism in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Whitney Museum of American Art
Museum of Modern Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
San Francisco Museum of Art
Newark Museum of Art
Brooklyn Museum of Art
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England