PAE: $433,830-$578,440
Elizabeth Peyton, Spencer (two Palms)
Elizabeth Peyton, Spencer (two Palms), signed, titled and dated 2002 on the overlap, oil on canvas, 101.5 by 76.2cm.; 40 by 30in. © Images are copyright of their respective owners, assignees or others.

Elizabeth Peyton (b. 1965) is an American artist whose paintings, drawings, and prints of people she admires, from celebrities and artists, to friends and historical figures, brought her initial recognition in the mid 1990s. Against the grain of the conceptual practices of the 1990s, Peyton decided to render pictures of people at a very small scale, a scale that she says she could pack into a suitcase, the size of a laptop, affording her the ability to move an entire show in one plane trip. She began her career in 1993 with an exhibition in Room 828 at The Chelsea Hotel that she rented with Gavin Brown, an enterprising young gallery dealer. The show exhibited drawings of Napoleon, Ludwig II of Bavaria, and Marie Antoinette. Not to long after this exhibition, Peyton expanded her renderings to include pictures of rock celebrity, borrowed from fan magazines, expressed in painting. These paintings included pictures of recently deceased Kurt Cobain (“Zoe’s Kurt”, 1995, “Princess Kurt”, 1995) and Oasis front man Liam Gallagher (“Blue Liam”, 1995). The style that she developed through these works, of androgynous and feminized males with defined eyes, pale skin and red lips, would unify the body of work that continued through the 1990s. Gradually her brushwork would become more expressionistic and bold (see “Jarvis”, 1996, Little Em (Eminem)”, 2002, “Pete (Pete Doherty)”, 2005), combining elements of abstraction, with a disregard for the rigidity of photographic duplication, as seen in the work of Alex Katz. This style combines her affinity for painting as well as for her subject matter. Peyton reclaims the photographic and charges it with admiring gesture. This pushes this territory of fan-based or fan-obsessed drawings of celebrity, which are often stale and amateur renderings, into high art context, one that through Peyton’s reworking of color and form do more to express these icons as vulnerable in their pop-spotlight exposure. Clearly influenced by Andy Warhol, Peyton’s contributions are refreshingly different. Although both use the celebrity photograph, Warhol’s work speaks about the repetition of an image over and over again until the person’s personality appears effaced. Peyton’s work by contrast is an admiration of an individual’s self-being, one that uniquely shines through media and one honored by Peyton’s hand rendering. Peyton’s love of bold gestures and bright colors recall the work of Manet and Van Gogh. In 2003 she began to use live sitters, setting up at Two Palms Press in New York City. Her work since has abandoned androgyny and she seeks to express the subjects’ truer presentation of themselves. See “Matthew, 2008”. Elizabeth Peyton is represented by Gladstone Gallery. See also David Hockney, Alex Katz, and Raymond Pettibon.

Video: Clarice Smith Distinguished Lecture with Artist Elizabeth Peyton. From: Smithsonian American Art Museum