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 Long Island, New York and Berlin.
Born in Danbury, Connecticut in 1965, Peyton began drawing 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...
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