Elizabeth Peyton rose to fame in the early 1990s as a painter energetically renewing portraiture’s relationship to popular culture. Consciously locating her work in the tradition of nineteenth-century painters of society and celebrity such as Manet, Peyton uses a loose, sensuous figuration to portray the young, the famous and the glamorous of our times. Alongside portraits of royalty and artist friends, she has become particularly famed for her portraits of musicians. This publication groups together her portraits of rock musicians such as David Bowie, Kurt Cobain, Jarvis Cocker, Pete Doherty, Noel and Liam Gallagher, John Lydon and Keith Richards, and opera singers such as Jessye Norman, Jonas Kaufmann and Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfelddepicted not in traditional poses, but in performance. Based on snapshots or archival photographs, these portraits express Peyton’s intensive examination of the vulnerability of live artistic creation. The source photographs are presented here en face with the final works, surveying oil paintings and works on paper from the last 20 years.
Elizabeth Peyton was born in Connecticut in 1965 and studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Her work is in the collections of leading museums including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Seattle Art Museum; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Her recent solo exhibitions include Live Forever (New Museum, Walker Art Center, 2008); Reading and Writing (Irish Museum of Modern Art, 2009); Wagner (the Gallery Met, New York, 2011); and Ghost: Elizabeth Peyton (Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, 2011). Peyton lives and works in Long Island, New York City and Berlin.