New York

Sylvia Sleigh


Sylvia Sleigh is improving her painting by imitating the compositional structures and the subject matter of figurative paintings. In her recent show, Ingres, Titian, and Signorelli are mentors. Sleigh’s struggle to integrate portraiture with Classical models and modes is one familiar to every art student faced with the (usually) less than ideal life-class model. The nude-in-north-light is an idealization, a transformation of the flawed physical facts. Unlike Pearlstein, who accepts the model as model, Sleigh is interested in transformation. Several problems complicate this process.

First, she paints awkwardly. Figures are slightly disjointed—additions of parts rather than organic wholes. The groping toward a canon of proportions never really suppresses the sense that guesswork and a kind of earnest faith in geometrical proportioning are the starting points. Although each part of the body

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