Max White

  • Alice Neel, Max White, 1935, oil on linen, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1989.14, © 1970, HARTLEY S. NEEL

Charles William White was part of Alice Neel’s artistic circle in Greenwich Village in the 1930s. Working under the pseudonym of Max White, he wrote novels that were inspired by artists’ lives, both imaginary and factual. Reclusive and seen as a revolutionary, in 1946 he penned In the Blazing Light, a novel about the tumultuous life and loves of the eighteenth-century Spanish painter Francisco Goya. In this painting, White’s large head, direct gaze, and elongated fingers imply an authoritative tone. Neel once said that he resembled an ancient sculpture from the Olmec people in south-central Mexico, whose depictions of figures are characterized by their flat faces and large foreheads adorned with tribal headdress. Neel painted another portrait of White, which she commonly did with her friends, in the 1960s when his body was ravaged by arthritis.” (Patricia Hills, Alice Neel, 1983)

In a half hour they’re bound to take their most characteristic pose. This involves all their character and social standing—what the world has done to them and their retaliation—and I put them in that.” The artist, describing her portrait sitters, quoted in Alice Neel and the Human Comedy,” ARTnews, October 1984
Max White
Not on view
3626 in. (91.466.0 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase

Mediums Description
oil on linen
  • Portrait male – White, Max – knee length
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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