Highlight on Elizabeth Peyton’s Prints

Elizabeth Peyton has been much celebrated for her intensely affecting portraits of both celebrities and loved ones. During the spring of 2002, Elizabeth began her first collaboration with printing press, Two Palms, that resulted in a collection of 20 monotypes and her first etchings. Her exhibition of prints at the Guild Hall Museum in 2006 in East Hampton portrayed mostly beautiful people, some famous, some less so. Many depict the pretty, androgynous, passive young men that she particularly favors and strikingly resemble herself with their short cropped haircuts. Even her etchings have the incisive immediacy of good life drawing.

The viewer is immediately engaged by Elizabeth’s two modes of picture-making – painterly abstraction and figuration. She is consistent in her deployment drippy swatches, serpentine lines and whispy dabs, as well as in her color palette which ranges from incandescent reds and oranges to pale lavenders and grays to darkly velvety browns, blacks and purples. Although expressionistic they do not border abstraction like Cecily Brown’s work, and likenesses are exacting. Her effortless yet precise depictions of her subjects including Prince William, Nicole Kidman, Chloë Sevigny, and Jacqueline Kennedy and common folk around her, but no less recognizable to the art world, such Rirkrit Tiravanija and Gavin Brown, her dealer.

Her cool, spontaneous style is reflective of David Hockney or Alex Katz’s figures, and can be interpreted as either embracing or satirizing our popular celebrity infused culture which makes her work all that more contemporary and relevant.

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