Thursday, October 23, 2008

Elizabeth Peyton

I love the work of Elizabeth Peyton, who has a show up at the New Museum. There’s a review in the Times by Roberta Smith. You can also check out the James Kalm Report, which I highly recommend.

The video contains statements by the curator who has worked closely with Peyton for years. She stridently insists that Peyton is a “hybrid” between painting and conceptual art and that her biggest influence is Warhol. I’m not quite sure what to think of it, as I believe that a lot of painting is and has been conceptual. It’s not something which started in the 20th century. I also can’t think of one living artist who isn’t hourly under the sway of Andy Warhol.

It’s funny how an interest in pretty rockstars needs to be dressed up, justified and historicized. I know I wasn’t the only young girl who drew made-up glamorous faces. All my boys looked like girls - which is probably why the high school portraits I made of David Bowie were the most recognizable, since he was blurring those lines anyway.

One time Randy Moe, Portland portrait artist extraordinaire, asked me why his work was a big deal (at least to me). After a long harangue, I said, look, do you know Elizabeth Peyton? He didn’t. There’s a lot of similarity - the difference being that Moe paints his friends, artists and rockers of P-town, whereas Peyton paints artists and rockers of the world. (Here is his portrait of the artist Tom Cramer and one of James Chasse Jr.).

Maybe the adamant stance is necessary when the artist is a woman painting pretty people. One thing I found interesting is how even though Peyton is adding lipstick and eyeliner to all her subjects (like Liam and Noel Gallagher and Jarvis Cocker), she is dressed down herself. In interviews I found of her on Youtube and elsewhere, she is casual, undone and unpainted, perhaps taking no chances lest you confuse her as an object and not look at the objects that she makes.


Sean Casey said...

I think between Duchamp and Warhol, you've pretty much covered the twentieth century in art.

However it's a little disheartening to see the younger ones still stuck in these paradigms.

It's the twenty-first century, and it's time to cast aside the idols of old. Marcel and Andy would have wanted as much.

And thanks for mentioning James Kalm. I've watched a few of his reviews/posts and it's refreshing to see a knowledgeable viewpoint on art with some street cred. A rare sight indeed among all the sensitive metrosexuals that seem to populate the art world.

harold hollingsworth said...

I wonder in moments, one of which was when I was handling her artwork as a installer at Microsoft, and that was of scale. I kept this to myself, but the crew I was a part of was rather unimpressed, and all I kept thinking was, what if it was 12 ft tall. I might make more of a defense, or interest, but much like a Vampire Weekend song, she fades soon enough...

CAP said...

What about Karen kilimnik?

Anonymous said...

You are right, CAP, what about Karen kilimnik? What's the difference? Maybe that Peyton more consistently objectifies men. And maybe she had a better press agent. I don't begrudge success though. Eva

CAP said...

Usually Peyton and Kilimnik get bracketed together in criticism. There are subtle but telling differences. I've taken my stab at it -

Peyton also swears allegiance to early David Hockney (the feminised young men) Kilimnik gets into a whole environment/installation thing. I don't think either take ANYTHING from Warhol, who was mainly interested in silkscreen printing as painting...

Toulouse Lautrec portrayed the pop stars of his day - glam and society portraits have a much broader history - take Alice Neel frinstance - was she influenced by Warhol? (actually she did a portrait of Andy with bullet wounds). She was old enough to his mother. Peyton is much closer to that in-crowd Cecil Beaton thing.

Kilimnik has a weirder trajectory, sometimes it just gets too fey for its own good, but occasionally it hits the mark for me.