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White Gray Black

Elizabeth Peyton (American, born 1965)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

American painter and draughtsman. She studied at the School for Visual Arts in New York, graduating with a BFA in 1987. In the early 1990s she began to draw portraits of famous historical figures such as Napoleon, sketching them in charcoal or pencil; Marie Antoinette Choosing her Clothes (1991; see 1997 exh. cat., p. 53) belongs to this group. Around the same time Peyton started to paint a series of portraits of the rock musician Kurt Cobain, using images taken from magazines and television, painted in a style that emphasized the androgyny and beauty of the singer, as in Princess Kurt (1995; Minneapolis, MN, Walker A. Cent.). During the 1990s Peyton painted numerous celebrities, continuing her distinct style which renders each of her models with the same red lips, defined eyes and pale skin, so that they all resemble an idealized, feminized version of masculinity that draws on a gay iconography exemplified by artists such as Pierre et Gilles. These paintings were also indebted to Andy Warhol’s screenprinted portraits of stars such as Marilyn Monroe, which used repeated photographic images from the public domain, whilst the painterly technique and bright colours make allusion to the obsessive paintings produced by teenage fans faithfully copying photographic images of their idols. In the mid-1990s Peyton also began using her friends as models, as in Piotr on Couch (1997; Seattle, WA, A. Mus.). These, too, conform to the androgynous ideal set by the earlier images and to the sense of a world populated by people whose celebrity emanates from their beauty.

Catherine M. Grant
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press


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