Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen presents Sylvia Sleigh exhibition

. October 19, 2012

Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen presents the most comprehensive retrospective to date of the painter Sylvia Sleigh (1916–2010) presents works spanning more than sixty years.


Sylvia Sleigh, Paul Rosano with His Guitar, 1973; Northwestern University Group, 1977–80; Three Women (for cover of Time Magazine), 1972. Exhibition View. Photo: Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, Gunnar Meier.

A broad selection has been made in order to showcase the totality and complexity of Sleigh’s artistic endeavour. In addition to portraits, the exhibition features a number of still lifes and landscapes, such as the rarely displayed paintings of statues in the park landscape near Crystal Palace in 1950s London. It is unusual for Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen to present the first retrospective of an artist, but today Sleigh’s position is particularly interesting for a younger generation of artists. Furthermore, the passionate attention that Sleigh paid to textiles and decorative details in her works fits well into the context of St. Gallen and its world famous textile tradition. Responsible for the exhibition design is Martin Leuthold, the famous textile designer and art director of Jakob Schlaepfer, St. Gallen. With a special design, he underlines this aspect of Sleigh’s work and lends particular project character to the retrospective at Kunst Halle.

Sylvia Sleigh was born in Wales, but moved to the United States in 1961 and settled in New York, where she lived for the rest of her life. Upon the emergence of feminism in the United States in the early 1970s, Sleigh established herself as a prominent artist, in particular by painting portraits of male and female models, both nude and clothed, which are characterised by strong colours and a love of decorative details. She found her models among writers, actors, musicians, and her fellow artists: hence her paintings serve also as a map of the dynamic art scene of the 1960s and ’70s in New York. In these portraits, she combined bold sensuality with a personal feminism that placed her at the heart of a discourse on power, representation, and gender. This discourse, which can be considered an exploration of traditional academic painting’s fundamental guidelines, also entailed a break with an apparently deadlocked power relation between a portrait’s artist and subject.

The retrospective at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen is the second stop of a travelling exhibition that was developed in coproduction with Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo and Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux (CAPC). Further stops are Tate Liverpool and Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, Sevilla. It is intended to draw greater attention in Europe to Sleigh’s work and present her important position in recent art history to a broad public.

Sylvia Sleigh (b.1916, Llandudno, Wales; d. 2010, New York) studied at the Brighton School of Art in Sussex, England. Solo exhibitions took place at the following institutions and galleries (amongst others): Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo (2012); Freymond-Guth & Co. Fine Arts, Zurich (2010); I-20 Gallery, New York (2009/2007); SoHo20, New York (2004/1999/1985/1980/1973); Milwaukee Art Museum (1990); A.I.R. Gallery, New York (1978/1976/1975). Further, she participated in various group exhibitions (amongst others): de Appel arts centre, Amsterdam; MoMA PS1, New York (2010/2008); A.I.R. Gallery, New York (2008/2000/1999/1998/1997); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007). – www.sylviasleigh.com

6 October–2 December 2012
With an exhibition design by Martin Leuthold (Art Director, Jakob Schlaepfer, St. Gallen)
Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen
Davidstrasse 40
9000 St. Gallen, Switzerland
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 12–6pm
Saturday–Sunday 11–5pm
T +41 (0)71 222 10 14
F +41 (0)71 222 12 76
info@k9000.ch
www.k9000.ch

Category: Fine Art

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