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Back to Reviews 96

Sphinx Chapel,
Installation view
at P.P.O.W. 1996


Friar Tuck,

judy fox 
at p.p.o.w.  

by Mia Fineman 

In her installation Sphinx Chapel at 

P.P.O.W., Judy Fox intimately explores the 

riddle of the child's body as a meeting 

point of the erotic and the divine. Modelled 

in clay and naturalistically painted in 

delicate pink and brown casein, Fox's life-

sized figures of naked children have the 

fleshy physicality of Duane Hanson 

sculptures combined with the subtly 

subversive sexuality of Sally Mann 


Each of the seven figures (ranging from 

chubby toddlers to barely blooming 

prepubescent girls) represents a different 

heroic or mythological character, indicated 

through an economical cultural shorthand of 

pose, gesture, and hairstyle. Two toddlers--

a solemnly introverted Dying Gaul and 

a beatific Friar Tuck with a monk's 

fringe encircling his bald pate--welcome the 

viewer into the front alcove. In the main 

gallery, a pig-tailed Attila aims an 

invisible bow and arrow at a juvenile 

Chinese Courtesan , frozen in a seductive and 

intricately stylized gestural dance. An 

angelic, blond-ringletted Delilah and a 

puerile Olympia, one hand coyly draped over 

her bare pubis, lounge silently at the 

sidelines. Presiding over the group with a 

hieratic nobility is the Sphinx, a young 

girl with her back arched at an impossible 

angle, her arms thrown back in a kind of 

benediction, her blond pigtails terminating 

in horn-like points. While each figure seems 

plucked from its own private universe, they 

are linked to each other through a 

paradoxical blend of humanity and heroicism, 

vulnerability and worldliness.

Judy Fox Sphinx Chapel

April 25 - May 25 1996


Mia Fineman is a New York writer.