Friday, July 6, 2012

Artist of the Day: Sylvia Sleigh

Artist of the day, Sylvia Sleigh, facilitator of the female gaze.
Sylvia Sleigh, artist, Paul Rosano model
Here's a review of an exhibit at the Lora Reynolds Gallery, (Austin, Texas) entitled "A Love Letter to Paul Rosano," by Katie Geha, which is a paean to Sylvia Sleigh's favorite model, Paul Rosano, and her work depicting him. The exhibit is titled, "Man as Subject and Object," which certainly sums up Sylvia Sleigh's work.

I quote the opening paragraphs of the review:

"Manscape: Man as Subject and Object opened last night at Lora Reynolds Gallery. The group photography and video show is curated by Christopher Eamon and purports to be about “the subjectivity of contemporary male identity.” The work, largely by young women artists, casts the male gaze back on the male, a kind of meta-male gaze that includes a lot of images of flaccid penises. “Just what the art world needs, more penises!” My wise friend Amanda pointed out. And while the works in the show are not bad by any means (in fact there is a suite of photos by John Massey from the late 1970s that is terrific), the concept of the show is pretty flimsy.

"During the curator talk Eamon said something to the effect of only recently seeing female artists turning the gaze around on men. It was hard not to raise my hand or clear my throat or something. Instead I tuned out and started thinking about Sylvia Sleigh, the feminist painter who in the 1970s (and up until her death in 2010) took art historical tropes of female objectivity and re-inserted groovy sensitive men. My favorite is Paul Rosano, a man she painted again and again. When I show Paul Rosano Reclining in my art history classes the students almost always audibly gasp."

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