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Alice Neel, “Self-Portrait”, 1980 Neel had never...

May 14, 2009
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Alice Neel, “Self-Portrait”, 1980Neel had never painted a self-portrait (she said the closest she came was an empty chair by a window), and then at 75 she started this painting, which took her five years to complete. She died four years later at the age of 84.This might be one of those paintings everyone who goes to art school has to look at, but it’s a new image to me.And a wonderful juxtaposition with two quotes I read earlier today on aging and death, respectively.Author Julian Barnes:There is something infinitely touching when an artist, in old age, takes on simplicity. The artist is saying: display and bravura are tricks for the young, and yes, showing off is part of ambition; but now that we are old, let us have the confidence to speak simply.And Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement speech:Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked.(via Gabrielle Bell in an interview)

Alice Neel, “Self-Portrait”, 1980

Neel had never painted a self-portrait (she said the closest she came was an empty chair by a window), and then at 75 she started this painting, which took her five years to complete. She died four years later at the age of 84.

This might be one of those paintings everyone who goes to art school has to look at, but it’s a new image to me.

And a wonderful juxtaposition with two quotes I read earlier today on aging and death, respectively.

Author Julian Barnes:

There is something infinitely touching when an artist, in old age, takes on simplicity. The artist is saying: display and bravura are tricks for the young, and yes, showing off is part of ambition; but now that we are old, let us have the confidence to speak simply.

And Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement speech:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked.

(via Gabrielle Bell in an interview)

1 note

  1. austinkleon posted this
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