John Russell, reviewing a 1983 exhibition of Mr. McNeil's work in The New York Times, wrote: "The dark night of the soul plays no part in these paintings. McNeil sees the world as a place in which people kick up their heels as often as they can, and he has taught his paint to do the same."
Born in Brooklyn, Mr. McNeil attended Saturday art classes at the Brooklyn Museum as a high school student, and in the early 1930's studied with Jan Matulka, a Cubist painter influenced by Picasso. His understanding of modern art was strongly influenced by Hans Hoffmann, with whom he studied from 1932 to 1936.
In 1935 he joined the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration, and the following year helped form the American Abstract Artists, a group that protested the rejection of contemporary American abstract art by most museums and galleries. Following service in the Navy during World War II, Mr. McNeil began a distinguished teaching career, first at the University of Wyoming and later at the University of California at Berkeley and the New York Studio School and the Pratt Institute in New York City.
As director of Pratt's evening program from 1948 to 1960 he hired fellow artists, including Philip Guston,Franz Kline and Adolph Gottlieb, as instructors. He remained on the Pratt faculty until 1980, and taught at the Studio School from 1966 to 1981.In 1969 Mr. McNeil received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 1982 he was awarded a prize by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. (The New York Times )
Avant Garde Art