Sylvia Sleigh Feminist Artist Dies at 94

Sylvia Sleigh, the British-born artist known for her provocative portraits has died of complications from a stroke at her home in Manhattan,she was 94. Her painting often compared to Alice Neel used the  male nude as a vehicle in poses traditionally reserved for  the female figure. She derived her inspiration from Ingres, Velázquez and Titian. Sleigh, came to prominence as part of the surging feminist art movement of the 1970s. She  added her own stamp to the genre of portraiture by presenting the male nude posed as a reclining Venus or odalisque, although she also painted both sexes, clothed and unclothed. Other works equalise the roles of men and women, such as the 1976 Concert Champetre, in which all the characters are nude, unlike its similarly composed namesake by Titian, in which only the women are. She once commented on her works: “I feel that my paintings stress the equality of men & women (women & men). Her circle of friends included Louise Bourgeois, Nancy Spero, Leon Golub and  Nancy Grossman.

“I wanted to give my perspective, portraying both sexes with dignity and humanism,” she stated. “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.”

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