|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Realist-feminist painter Sylvia Sleigh emigrated to America in 1961. She was born in Llandudno, Wales in 1916, studying in Sussex, England at the Brighton School of Art. In the 1940s, at art school, she received the harsh advice, "You have no talent. You're just here to waste time until you get married." She ultimately received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1982, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation in 1985.|
Sleigh also was awarded the Edith Kreeger Wolf Distinguished Professorship at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, where she taught. Sleigh has also taught at the New School for Social Research, in New York City, and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She was married to art critic and Guggenheim Museum (New York) curator Lawrence Alloway.
Sylvia Sleigh has had one-person exhibitions at Northwestern University; Bennington College, Vermont; Ohio State University, Columbus; University of Rhode Island, Kingston; Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey; Fordham University, Bronx, New York; G.W. Einstein Company, New York City; New School for School Research; and a show in 1990 that traveled to Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana; Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin; and Butler Institute of Art, Youngstown, Ohio.
Her painting, A.I.R. Group Portrait, 1978, 75 x 82, documents the twenty-one women members of the Artist-in-Residence Gallery in New York City, one of the early feminist cooperative galleries in America. Sleigh's The Turkish Bath, 1973, a take-off on Titian and Ingres subject matter, depicting four nude art critics, is in the collection of the Smart Museum, University of Chicago.
Writings about Sylvia Sleigh include Donald B. Kuspit's essay in Sylvia Sleigh: Recent Paintings, a catalog put out by G.W. Einstein for her 1980 show; Charlotte S. Rubinstein's American Women Artists, published in 1982 by G.K. Hall; a review by Gerrit Henry, "Sylvia Sleigh at G.W. Einstein," in the Summer 1983 issue of Art in America; and Joanna Frueh's "Chicago: Sylvia Sleigh at Zaks," in the January 1986 Art in America.
A more extensive Sylvia Sleigh bibliography includes:
Adrian, Dennis and Bowman, Russell. Sylvia Sleigh: Invitation to a Voyage and Other Works. Milwaukee Arts Museum: 3-13.
Brown, Betty Ann. (1997) Dictionary of Women Artists v. 2 London and Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers; 1280-1.
Bowman, Russell. Sylvia Sleigh: Invitation to a Voyage and Other Works. Milwaukee: Milwaukee Art Museum. 1990.
Everson Museum of Art. Paintings by three American Realists: Alice Neel, Sylvia Sleigh, May Stevens. Syracuse, NY: Visual Artis Publications. 1976.
Fendrick Gallery. Dorothy Gillespie, Alice Neel, Charlotte Robinson, Sylvia Sleigh: recent paintings and works on paper: [exhibition]. Washington: Fendrick Gallery. 1976.
Frueh, J. "Sylvia Sleigh", Art in America 74, no. 1 (1986): 143.
Henry, G. "Sylvia Sleigh", Art In America 88, no. 9 (Sep 2000):152.
Johnson, K. "Sylvia Sleigh", Art in America 82, no. 12 (Dec 1994): 98-99.
Kalina, R. "Portraits and a Marriage - The Intertwined Lives of Painter Sylvia Sleigh and Critic Lawrence Alloway were the subject of a recent exhibition in Philadelphia", Art In America 89, no. 12 (Dec 2001): 106-109.
Loughery, J. "Sylvia Sleigh - Invitation to a voyage and other works- Bowman, R, Adrian, D", Woman's Art Journal 12, no. 1 (1991): 57-58.
McCarthy, David. The Nude in American Painting, 1950-1980. New York: Cambridge University Press. 1998.
Nochlin, Linda. Arts Magazine. Arts Digest Inc, NY. May 1974 (Volume 48, No 8). "Some Women Realists-Painters of the Future," 29-33.
Perreault, John. On the Work of Sylvia Sleigh. New York: S.I.R. Gallery. 1978.
Philadelphia Art Alliance. An Unnerving Romanticism: the art of Sylvia Sleigh & Lawrence Alloway. [exhibition]. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Art Alliance. 2001.
Phillips, DC. "Sylvia Sleigh", Art News 80, no. 1 (1981): 169-170.
Queens College. Sylvia Sleigh. Flushing, NY: ARTDOC/NY. 1976.
Rubinstein, Charlotte Streifer. (1982) American Women Artists from Early Indian Times to the Present. Boston: Avon Publishers of Bard, Camelot, Discus, and Flare Books; 401-403.
Sleigh, Sylvia. Sylvia Sleigh. Terre Haute: Indiana State University. 1977.
______. Sylvia Sleigh. New York: Visual Resources, Inc. 1982.
Tatransky, V. "Sylvia Sleigh", Arts Magazine 58, no. 1 (1983): 158-159.
______."Sylvia Sleigh", Arts Magazine 55, no. 2 (1980): 6.
Weiffenbach, Jean-Edith. Six Painters of the Figure: Alex Katz, Diana Kurz, Alfred Leslie, Alice Neel, Philip Pearlstein, Sylvia Sleigh. Boulder: The Department of Fine Arts, University of Colorado, Boulder. 1979.
Yood, J. "Sylvia Sleigh", ArtForum 29, no. 2 (1990):175-176.
Jules and Nancy Heller, "North American Women Artists of the 20th Century"
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|SYLVIA SLEIGH, PROVACATIVE PORTRAITIST AND FEMINIST ARTIST, DIES AT 94 by William Grimes, October 25, 2010|
The cause was complications of a stroke, said Alice Judelson, an owner of I-20 Gallery in Manhattan, which represents her.
Sylvia Sleigh, a British-born artist who put a feminist spin on the
portrait genre by painting male nudes in poses that recalled the female
subjects of Ingres, Velázquez and Titian, died on Sunday at her home in
Manhattan. She was 94.
Ms. Sleigh, who came to prominence as part of the surging feminist art
movement of the 1970s, turned traditional portraiture on its head by
presenting the male nude posed as a reclining Venus or odalisque,
although she also painted both sexes, clothed and unclothed.
The 1971 painting Philip Golub Reclining depicted the son of the artists Nancy Spero and Leon Golub sprawled on a sofa in the pose of Velázquez’s “Rokeby Venus.”
In The Turkish Bath (1973), Ms. Sleigh borrowed the theme of
Ingres’s painting of the same title, but instead of voluptuous harem
nudes she depicted a nude man with his back to the viewer strumming a
guitar for five nude male companions, among them the critic Lawrence
Alloway, her second husband. (She often used her friends, among them
well-known artists and critics, as models.)
“I wanted to give my perspective, portraying both sexes with dignity
and humanism,” she once said. “It was very necessary to do this because
women had often been painted as objects of desire in humiliating poses.
I don’t mind the ‘desire’ part, it’s the ‘object’ that’s not very nice.”
In SoHo 20 (1974) and A.I.R. Group Portrait (1978), which
showed the members of two all-women cooperative galleries, Ms. Sleigh
documented the rise of the feminist art movement. She helped found the
SoHo 20 Gallery in 1973 and became a member of the Artists in Residence
Gallery the following year.
Sylvia Sleigh was born on May 8, 1916, in Llandudno, Wales, and grew up
in Hove, Sussex. After studying at the Brighton School of Art she
worked as a dresser at a women’s clothing store on Bond Street. “Every
customer had a lady to look after them,” she told the online magazine
Art Interview in 2007. “It was very interesting. One of the most
exciting things was undressing Vivien Leigh.”
She opened her own shop in Brighton, making hats, coats and dresses, but closed it when World War II began.
After marrying her first husband, an artist named Michael Greenwood, in
1941, she moved to London and started painting again. In 1953 she had
her first solo show, at the Kensington Art Gallery, but she worked in
obscurity even after moving to the United States in 1961 with Mr.
Alloway, who died in 1990. No immediate family members survive.
Through her work with the Ad Hoc Committee of Women Artists and Women
in the Arts, as well as her exhibitions with the SoHo 20 Gallery and
A.I.R., she emerged in the 1970s as a prominent artist with an
audacious take on traditional art history.
Not only were the sex roles reversed, but her paintings also wittily
cast her all-too-human subjects in situations reserved for the gods of
antiquity in Renaissance art. Idealism was brought firmly to earth by
her habit of recording body hair in painstaking detail and up-to-date
fashion statements like cutoff jeans and flip-flops.
In 1999 she completed her most ambitious work to date, a large-scale
pastorale reminiscent of Watteau that was 20 years in the making.
Titled Invitation to a Voyage: The Hudson River at Fishkill, it
consisted of 14 continuous panels stretching out to a length of 70
feet. It depicted a group of the artist’s friends gathered on the banks
of the Hudson near the railroad tracks, some picnicking on the grass,
others strolling or lounging against the Arcadian backdrop of the river.
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