"It is always plausible to say that a painter’s figures are self-portraits. Yet it makes just as much sense to say that McNeil gives us images of an Everyman—and Woman—adapting at high speed to the slings and arrows directed their way by the world around them. As our world and its challenges morph, so do they. During the 1980s, the heyday of Neo-Expressionism, the veteran expressionist McNeil responded more to graffiti and punk. Here again we see him standing in two places at once—in the thick of things, where he had been ever since the late 1920s, and off to the side. For graffiti and punk were youthful styles. However passionate inwardly, outwardly they were cool. McNeil was never cool. He was always hot, even molten."
–Carter Ratcliff, Art & Antiques Magazine June 2014
Writing for Artforum, John Yau reviews McNeil's 1989 show at M. Knoeder & Company. In a 2014 article in Art & Antiques Magazine Carter Ratcliff explores McNeil's career from the modernism of the 1930s to the youth culture of the 1980s.