Elizabeth Joy 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 and boyfriends, pop celebrities, and European monarchy. Peyton lives and works in New York, NY. Born in Danbury, Connecticut in 1965, Peyton began drawing and painting people at a young age. Between 1984 and 1987, she studied fine arts at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. The focus of Peyton’s work has been the small-scale portrait. She cites as inspiration the studio portraiture of Nadar, Alfred Stieglitz and Robert Mapplethorpe, who all photographed their friends and intimates. Her work is most often executed in oil paint, applied with washy glazes that are sometimes allowed or encouraged to drip, but also in watercolour, pencil, and etching. Her paintings are characterized by elongated, slender figures with androgynous features. Sexually ambiguous, feminine qualities are regularly emphasised. Her work at times resembles 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 for her art. She thus usually works from photographs. Before switching to a digital camera in 2002, Peyton shot her subjects with either a standard 35-millimeter or a Polaroid camera — with little attention to composition or lighting. Several of them are blurred or slightly out of focus. Since 1998, when Parkett magazine commissioned her to create a lithograph, Peyton has created a broad range of prints, including monotypes, lithographs, and woodcuts. Experimenting with different techniques, she also uses a variety of diverse and handmade papers as well as various colored and monochromatic inks. Her portrayed subjects populate both her prints and paintings. The idealization and stylization of known celebrities has led some critics to characterize her work as being in the tradition of Andy Warhol. The artist has cited influence by David Hockney. Her celebrity subjects have included David Bowie, Noel and Liam Gallagher of the rock band Oasis, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, Chloë Sevigny, Nicole Kidman, Princes William and Harry of The House of Windsor, Abraham Lincoln, Graham Coxon, Keith Richards, John Lennon, Marc Jacobs, Kurt Cobain, Kanye West, Eminem, Ludwig II of Bavaria, Peter Doherty, Carl Barât and members of The Kennedy Family. A painting of by Elizabeth Peyton appears on the 2010 compilation album The Best of Suede. In her paintings, Peyton hardly ever depicts these often young artists and musicians standing, and she never visually associates them with an activity like making art or music; instead, they are portrayed sleeping, reclining, or sitting. Since 2007 Peyton has incorporated the still life into her range of subjects with works such as Pati (2007), Balzac + Roses (2008), Flaubert + Madame Bovary (Elephants) (2008), Camille Claudel and Flowers (Still Life) (2009), Actaeon, Justin Bieber and Grey Roses (2010), Flowers, Lichtenstein, Parsifal (2011), and Berlin, Hyacinth and Black Teapot (2014). In 2009, Peyton collaborated with Matthew Barney on Blood of Two, an art project on the Greek island of Hydra. She later worked with Jonathan Horowitz on a series of monotypes which develop upon the concepts of plants and flowers as motifs of love and death, resulting in a series of paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures and photographs, as well as a collaborative artists book.
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