The great US artist Alice Neel lived and painted in uptown New York when it was almost exclusively black and Hispanic. As a show of portraits of her neighbours and friends comes to London, its curator, Hilton Als, discusses some of his favourite images
For most of her life, Alice Neel was barely known - she was a figurative artist when abstract expressionism was all the rage, and being a woman didn't help, either. But full-on, psychologically and sociologically acute portraits were her strength, and she stuck with it. Eventually, says Suzie Mackenzie, the world caught up with her.