Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Working at Home

Sylvia Sleigh  "Working at Home"  1969

The figurative painter Sylvia Sleigh (1916-2010) was born in Wales and studied art in England.  After her marriage to English art critic Lawrence Alloway, the couple moved to the U.S. in the early 1960s where Alloway took a position as a curator at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC.

In the 1970s Sleigh became interested in the feminist art movement, and her work started to examine gender role reversal. She is famous for a series of paintings that portray nude men. Not explicitly sexualized, simply showing the male nude in poses often associated with the female nude, reclining or lounging, Sleigh's work gave a gentle visual shock to viewers who were more accustomed to seeing female bodies in these positions, making people reconsider their assumptions on gendered roles in art and life. 
Sleigh has been quoted as saying:  "I feel that my paintings stress the equality of men & women (women & men.) To me, women were often portrayed as sex objects in humiliating poses. I wanted to give my perspective. I liked to portray both man and woman as intelligent and thoughtful people with dignity and humanism that emphasized love and joy."


Katharine Beals said...

Interesting and intelligent painting. "Women were often portrayed as sex objects in humiliating poses."--so true! And yet she paints her husband--I'm assuming that's Lawrence in the background?--with great respect.

Sonja Lindgren said...

This is one of the loveliest works I have seen portraying love & work. The quiet, the sense of two people companionably working on their individual projects near each other says gender equality without having to say gender equality.