Elizabeth Peyton, Em, 2002. Etching with aquatint, edition of 30, 21-½ x 15-1/2” (image). Courtesy of Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York.

The Painterly & Technical Sophistication of Elizabeth Peyton's Printmaking

Elizabeth Peyton, Oscar and Bosie, 1998. Two-color lithograph with pearlescent dust, edition of 10, 22-3/4 x 24-3/8". Courtesy of Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York.

Elizabeth Peyton, Robert Mapplethorpe (After Robert Mapplethorpe's Self Portrait with Leather Jacket 1980) (Two), 2006. Monotype on Twinrocker handmade paper, 17-1/2 x 13-1/4". Collection of Joan and David Genser.

Elizabeth Peyton, Georgia (After Stieglitz, 1918), 2006. Direct gravure etching with aquatint on Hahnemuhle Copperplate Etching paper, 30 x 22". Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis. University purchase, Bixby Fund, 2009.


Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
Washington University
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis
Ghost: Elizabeth Peyton
January 28-April 18, 2011

One of the most celebrated American painters of her generation, Elizabeth Peyton is among today’s foremost contemporary figurative artists and a renowned chronicler of modern life.

Her subjects include personal friends and heroes as well as visual artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, David Hockney, Andy Warhol and Robert Mapplethorpe, and historical and cultural figures ranging from William Shakespeare and Richard Wagner to Eminem and Chloe Sevigny.

Organized by Sabine Eckmann, PhD, the museum’s William T. Kemper Director and Chief Curator, Ghost: Elizabeth Peyton, the most extensive critical survey of Peyton’s work as a printmaker to date, includes more than four dozen works produced between 1998 and 2010, ranging from etchings and aquatints to lithographs, monotypes and hand-printed Ukiyo-e woodcuts. (Since 2002, all of Peyton’s prints have been produced in collaboration with Two Palms Press, an independent print studio in New York City.)

As a printmaker, Peyton revives the tradition of the “painterly print” or monotype — famously utilized by artists such as Edgar Degas — yet also adapts it and other techniques to her own contemporary practice.

Like her paintings, Peyton’s prints merge the subjective beauty and individuality of her subjects with the formal characteristics and exquisite expressive potentials of her chosen medium.

For example, though Peyton’s monotypes, lithographs and woodcuts frequently reproduce the lush and richly textured qualities of the painted brushstroke, her etchings are largely characterized by the delicate, refined contours of the masterfully drawn line. Indeed, it is typical for Peyton’s prints to emphasize — through form, process and brushwork — the hand of the artist at work.

Peyton’s most recent prints, such as the still life Flowers and Actaeon, January 2009 (2009), are among her most painterly and find the artist increasingly shifting between figuration and abstraction. At the same time,

Peyton pays homage to a number of historical figures, including the painter Paul Cézanne; German composer Richard Wagner; heldentenor Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld; and Schnorr’s wife, Malvina, a soprano.

She also references works by French sculptor Camille Claudel, notably Claudel’s 1905 group sculpture Vertumnus and Pomona, as well as a mask of Claudel’s face created by her lover and friend Auguste Rodin.

These prints, like Peyton’s very earliest, balance a series of dichotomies — high art and popular culture; stylization and subjectivity; realism and fiction; beauty and visual pleasure — while capturing the viewer’s imagination through dramatic brushwork, intense color and richly modulated surfaces.

Concurrent with its exhibition at the Kemper Art Museum, Ghost: Elizabeth Peyton is also presented at the Opelvillen in Rüsselsheim, Germany. That iteration will be curated by director Beate Kemfert.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a monograph, Ghost: Elizabeth Peyton, jointly published by Hatje Cantz, the Opelvillen and the Kemper Art Museum.

An in-depth exploration of Peyton as a critical printmaker, the volume includes an essay by Eckmann as well as contributions by the writer and critic Hilton Als and by David Lasry, director of Two Palms Press.

In addition, the monograph — which is designed by Joseph Logan — features an interview with Peyton conducted by Kemfert and more than 70 of Peyton’s prints in color.

Born in 1965 in Danbury, Conn., Peyton earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1987 from the School of Visual Arts in New York.

In the years since, her works have been featured in more than 50 solo exhibitions and dozens of group shows.

They are included in major public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, both in New York; the Museum of Fine Arts Boston; the Saint Louis Art Museum; the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; the Kunstmuseum in Wolfsburg, Germany; and the Museum fur Gegenwartskunst in Basel, Switzerland. She lives and works in New York.

Elizabeth Peyton, Flower Ben (One), 2002. Monotype with hand painting on Twinrocker handmade paper, 12-1/4 x 8-3/4". Private collection, New York.



Elizabeth Peyton, Pauline (Pauline Daly), 2005


Elizabeth Peyton, Princess Kurt, 1995, Oil on linen, 14 x 11-3/4", Collection Walker Art Center, T.B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 1995, Kurt Cobain, musician.

Elizabeth Payton, Capturing the Essence of that Which Lives Forever

Elizabeth Peyton, Democrats are more beautiful (after Jonathan Horowitz), 2001, Oil on board, 10 x 8, Collection Laura and Stafford Broumand, Al Gore.

Elizabeth Peyton, Max, 1996, Oil on board, 12 x 9, Private collection, Courtesy Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York, Max Brown, son of Gavin Brown, gallerist.

Elizabeth Peyton, David Hockney, Powis Terrace Bedroom, 1998, Oil on board, 9-3/4 x 7, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, David Hockney, artist,


New Museum
235 Bowery
New York
Live Forever:
Elizabeth Peyton

October 8, 2008-
January 11, 2009

For some 20 years, Elizabeth Peyton (b. 1965) has been painting “pictures of people” — friends, personal heroes, and iconic figures from popular culture and history. Her radically contemporary and surprisingly intimate subject matter put her at the vanguard of an early 1990s “return” to figurative painting.

A brilliant colorist with a razor-sharp graphic sense, Peyton creates small, jewel-like portraits that celebrate the promise and pitfalls of youth, fame, and creative genius — a testament to her passion for beauty in all its forms. Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton includes more than 100 paintings, drawings, and prints.

Working from photographs, and more recently from live sittings, Peyton is among a small group of artists to develop a peculiar hybrid of realism and conceptualism.

Although her paintings reference 19th-century modernist painting — from Eduard Manet to John Singer Sargent — Peyton processes these masters through an intimate understanding of 20th-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. Steeped in history, her work aspires to bridge the gap between art and life.

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 offers 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 premiered at the New Museum, traveled to Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Whitechapel Art Gallery in London; and Bonnefantenmuseum, in Maastricht , The Netherlands.

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue co-published by New Museum and Phaidon, Ltd. Designed by the award-winning Graphic Thought Facility, it features essays by Iwona Blazwick, critic, curator and director of Whitechapel Art Gallery in London; New York poet John Giorno; and Laura Hoptman, Kraus Family Senior Curator at the New Museum. The book also includes a large section of artworks, photographs, and ephemera organized by Peyton. Support for the accompanying publication is provided by the J. McSweeney and G. Mills Publications Fund at the New Museum.

In the mid-80s, Peyton studied fine arts at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 1987, Peyton had her inaugural solo show at Althea Viafora Gallery in New York City's SoHo. Ahead of its time, the exhibition of figurative paintings on glass was supported by art patrons Peter Jay Sharp, Ahmet Ertegun, and Dan Lufkin. At the avant-garde Viafora Gallery, Peyton's work was followed by the first exhibition of Matthew Barney and other significant contemporary artists.

Peyton's second exhibition in New York City was held in a room of the Chelsea Hotel (mainly drawings). People who wished to see the exhibition would just go to the reception of the hotel and ask for the room key. She went on to exhibit regularly at the Gavin Brown Gallery and started receiving very positive reviews from the New York Times and The Village Voice.

Her career was launched, a fact later endorsed by the art market where the price of her works has steadily soared (an oil on canvas representing John Lennon was sold for a record $800,000 in 2006). Works by Elizabeth Peyton are now in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Her work is characterized by elongated, slender figures with androgynous features which at times resemble 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 to her art. Her work is most often executed in oil paint, applied with washy glazes that are sometimes allowed or encouraged to drip. Several other works in color pencil have also found notoriety and recent work has included etchings. The idealization and stylization of known celebrities has led some critics to characterize her work as derivative of or in the tradition of Andy Warhol with a Romantic (see Romanticism) overtone. The artist has cited influence by David Hockney.

She is currently represented by Sadie Coles HQ in the UK.

Elizabeth Peyton, Craig, 1997, Oil on canvas, 14 x 17", Collection David Teiger, fractional and promised gift to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Courtesy Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York, Craig Wadlin, artist.


Elizabeth Peyton, Live to Ride (E.P.), 2003, Oil on board, 15 x 12", Collection Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Partial and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Chrissie Iles, Elizabeth Peyton self-portrait.