Elizabeth Peyton, American (1965 - )

Elizabeth Peyton (born 1965) is an American painter who rose to popularity in the mid 1990s. She is a contemporary artist best known for stylized and idealized portraits of her close friends, pop celebrities, and European monarchy.

In the mid-80s, she studied fine arts at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her first successful exhibition in New York City was held in a room of the Chelsea hotel (mainly drawings). People who wished to see the exhibition would just go to the reception of the hotel and ask for the room key. She went on to exhibit regularly at the Gavin Brown Gallery and started receiving very positive reviews from the New York Times and The Village Voice. Her career was launched, a fact later endorsed by the art market where the price of her works has steadily soared (an oil on canvas representing John Lennon was sold for a record $800 000 in 2006). Works by Elizabeth Peyton are now in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Her work is characterized by elongated, slender figures with androgynous features which at times resemble fashion illustration. The artist, interviewed in the catalogue for the exhibition "The Painter of Modern Life" at the Hayward gallery in London in 2007, has indeed acknowledged the importance of photography as an inspiration source to her art. Her work is most often executed in oil paint, applied with washy glazes that are sometimes allowed or encouraged to drip. Several other works in color pencil have also found notoriety and recent work has included etchings. The idealization and stylization of known celebrities has led some critics to characterize her work as derivative of or in the tradition of Andy Warhol with a Romantic overtone. The artist has cited influence by David Hockney.

Her celebrity subjects have included Noel and Liam Gallagher of the rock band Oasis (band),Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, Chloë Sevigny, Princes William and Harry of The House of Windsor, Abraham Lincoln, Graham Coxon, Keith Richards, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, eminem, Ludwig II of Bavaria, and members of The Kennedy Family.

Elizabeth Peyton is sometimes credited for having revived the tradition of portrait painting, at a time (the early 1990's) when some critics and even artists (conceptualists and minimalists) had declared it "dead".

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