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January 17th, 2001
Video Portrait of Alice Neel by Michel Auder in Museum

Coinciding with the retrospective exhibition of Alice Neel's paintings in the Dorrance Galleries of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum's video gallery (179) will feature Portrait of Alice Neel, 1978-1982, created especially for this occasion by acclaimed pioneer of video art, Michel Auder (French, born 1944). Drawing on extensive footage he shot of Alice Neel over the course of their five year friendship, Auder has crafted an epic portrait, two hours long, that is a remarkable introduction to Neel the artist and the person.

By all accounts, Neel was a charismatic, larger-than-life figure: independent, passionate and full of wit. Portrait of Alice Neel, 1978-1982 offers an unprecedented opportunity to experience Neel's legendary garrulousness, humor and candor in documentary footage that has never been exhibited. Auder captures Neel in seven different situations using his characteristically "real time," diaristic style of filming. Ranging from 4 minutes to 47 minutes, these segments, shot in both black and white and color, include Neel's 1982 birthday celebration at Gracie Mansion, attended by Andy Warhol; Neel showing actor Taylor Mead many of the early paintings that lined the shelves of her studio in the 1970s; footage of Neel in her studio apartment, working and visiting with sitters and guests. Auder does not use the camera as an invisible eye, but is present within the films, occasionally interjecting thoughts, as well as interviewing Neel and even setting up the camera to record his own sitting for a portrait by Alice Neel. Auder's camera hones in on Neel as she speaks, but also wanders into her surroundings, recording details of daily life to subtly accent the content of each scene. While revealing Neel's public persona in action, Auder's video unmasks many facets of Neel's complex personality and private emotions in a poetic tribute to Neel's remarkable life as an artist and woman.

Born in Soissons, France, Auder came to New York in 1969, and was first introduced to filmmaking through his immersion in the milieu of Andy Warhol's Factory. He was one of the first to experiment with the new medium of video. Over the last twenty-five years Michel Auder has shot thousands of hours of unedited footage, however he is a master editor who has created a body of work that finds wide significance in small everyday details drawn from his own life and travels, or friends and strangers in the downtown Manhattan art world. Auder's work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and in museums and galleries in Austria, Brazil, Japan and Switzerland. Auder's Portrait of Alice Neel, 1978-1982, on view in Gallery 181, will complement another Auder video that is presented within the Neel exhibition: a short documentary of Neel painting her 1978 portrait of Margaret Evans. Auder, who visited Neel regularly from 1978 until her death has declared his debt to Neel as an inspirational artist and portraitist. He discusses his experiences as a Neel portrait subject in a symposium that is included in the Alice Neel exhibition catalogue: "Undergoing Scrutiny: Sitting for Alice Neel."

Continuing until February 11 in the Video Gallery 179 is Mariko Mori's Kumano.

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