Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton

Elizabeth Peyton,Piotr on Couch, 1996. Oil on board, 9 × 12 in (22.9 × 30.5 cm). Seattle Art Museum, gift of the William E. Weiss Foundation, Inc., 97.11.
Elizabeth Peyton,Piotr on Couch, 1996. Oil on board, 9 × 12 in (22.9 × 30.5 cm). Seattle Art Museum, gift of the William E. Weiss Foundation, Inc., 97.11.

Peyton’s oeuvre can be read in chapters, each of which feature portraits of friends, family, personal heroes, and fleeting passions. “Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton” will offer a visual biography of the artist, and at the same time create a snapshot of the popular culture of the past decade.

From her earliest portraits of musicians like Kurt Cobain, Liam Gallagher, and Jarvis Cocker to more recent paintings featuring friends and figures from the worlds of art, fashion, cinema, and politics including Rirkrit Tiravanija, Matthew Barney, and Marc Jacobs, Elizabeth Peyton’s body of work presents a chronicle of America at the end of the last century. A painter of modern life, Peyton’s small, jewel-like portraits are also intensely empathetic, intimate, and even personal. Together, her works capture an artistic zeitgeist that reflects the cultural climate of the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries.

Peyton emerged as a vanguard voice in the return to narrative figuration in contemporary painting in the 1990s, and is among a small group of artists to develop a peculiar hybrid of realism and conceptualism. Although her paintings reference nineteenth-century modernist painting – from Eduard Manet to John Singer Sargent – Peyton processes these masters through an intimate understanding of twentieth-century artists such as David Hockney, Alex Katz, and above all, Andy Warhol. Like Warhol, Peyton’s art is at the service of the culture it captures. A brilliant colorist with a razor-sharp graphic sense, her paintings are enormously seductive in form and content, celebrating the aesthetics of youth, fame, and creative genius. They are also testaments to Peyton’s deeper passion for beauty in all its forms – from the elevated to the everyday. Ultimately, Peyton’s paintings are evidence of a dedication to the creation of a new kind of popular art. Steeped in history, her work aspires to bridge the gap between art and life.

Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton

"Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton" is the first survey of Elizabeth Peyton's work in an American institution. The survey will include more than 100 works made over the past fifteen years.

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