Sylvia Sleigh’s (1916–2010) portrait paintings challenge and reverse the stereotypical portrayal of women in art. During the 1960s, Sleigh relocated from Wales to New York and swiftly became part of the feminist movement. She painted portraits of male nudes in poses taken from paintings throughout art history, challenging the oppression and subjugation of the female nude.
Sleigh expressed, “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.”
Douglas John and Ms. Smith is a tender portrait. The sitter radiantly gazes upwards, their face framed by cascading dark hair which merges into fur – Sleigh was obsessed with painting hair.
Sleigh depicted many artists in her portraits including Eleanor Antin, Nancy Spero and Mary Beth
Edelson who are all represented in the Femfolio.