Pluto: Robert Lucy

Sylvia Sleigh

Sleigh’s practice as a portraitist reached a pinnacle in the 1970s and 80s during First Wave Feminism as they questioned power dynamics in the subject-object paradigm of viewership through her rendering of male nude subjects in feminine poses. As Joan Semmel wrote about Sleigh’s male nudes, the subject “is used as a vehicle to express erotic feelings, just as male artists have always used the female nude.”* This particular male nude, “Pluto: Robert Lucy,” 1994 is one in which her subject inhabits the character of Pluto, god of the underworld. Rather than existing within a domestic space, like many of Sleigh’s other nudes, Robert Lucy, a friend and fellow artist, confidently leans against a tree, bedecked in a cape, and staring off to the side. This large, full-length nude is one of the largest and most complex of Sleigh’s career and highlights her interpretation of friends through mythology within the medium of paint. *Joan and April Kingsley, “Sexual Imagery in Women’s Art,” Women’s Art Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring – Summer, 1980s
Date of Birth
Oil on linen
90 x 54 in. (228.6 x 137.16 cm.)
Accession #
Credit Line
Gift of the Estate of Sylvia Sleigh