Alice Neel and Sam Brody

An awful lot has been written concerning the relationship between Sam Brody and the artist Alice Neel, very little of it accurate. As part of various books and articles covering aspects of Neel's life, a portrait of Sam has emerged that is salacious and absurd. Sadly, experience suggests that these moments have more to do with enhancing publishers' bottom lines than efforts by genuine art historians to uncover the truth. This page contains, in addition to selected Sam Brody photographs of Neel, some of the Brody family's attempts to put the record straight.

(All photographs taken by Sam Brody are protected by international copyright laws and cannot be used without the permission of his estate.)

Alice Neel

An Open Letter to Phoebe Hoban
from David Brody
In Response to Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty

Dear Phoebe:

First let me say that I was saddened to hear of the death in December of your father Russell Hoban. He was a remarkable writer with a compelling life story. I genuinely believe that Riddley Walker is one of the twentieth century’s great novels and that history will confirm this conclusion.

That said, with the passage of time I find myself at last able to address my concerns over your depiction of my father Sam Brody.... (More.)



Alice Neel

Alice Neel & Sam Brody
by Sondra Brody

Alice Neel, a film by Andrew Neel, had its New York City premiere at Cinema Village on Friday, April 20, 2007. A letter from Sam Brody's widow Sondra, in response to the film and the April 22nd New York Times feature article, was published in the April 29, 2007 Times Arts & Leisure section. Here is a fuller expression of her view of the film, in particular its depiction of Sam Brody:

Why do artists create?

This rather large question is posed by Hartley Neel to his son Andrew early on in the latter’s film about his artist grandmother, Alice Neel.  Leaning into the camera,  Hartley asks: “why are you sitting there with that camera making a movie?” (More.)


Alice Neel
Alice Neel

Sam Brody's Youngest Son Responds to the Film Alice Neel
by David Brody

First, let me make it clear that Andrew Neel has made a good film. Alice Neel is well-paced and eye catching. He's a talented filmmaker. Dare I suggest that it's in his genes?

Second, in the more than two decades that I lived with and was raised by Sam Brody (a leading character in the drama of Alice Neel's life), he never laid an abusive hand on me.  Not once. (More.)


David Brody’s Reaction to
“Alice Neel: The Painter and Her Politics”
by Gerald Meyer
(an article appearing in the Fall 2009 issue of Columbia Journal of American Studies)

While there is some merit to Gerald Meyer’s article “Alice Neel: The Painter and Her Politics”, appearing in the Columbia Journal of American Studies, my objections boil down to three points:  Scholarly laziness(at least in regard to Sam Brody), editorial sloppiness and ideological myopia. (More.)

Alice Neel