MAASTRICHT.- The Bonnefantenmuseum
will be presenting the first comprehensive retrospective of Elizabeth Peyton's oeuvre on the European mainland, which comprises over 90 works (paintings, watercolours, drawings and lithos) from the past 18 years (1991-2009).
From her first portraits of 19th-century heroes to her more recent works, peopled with friends from the world of music, fashion and literature, Elizabeth Peyton has presented herself as a contemporary 'painter of modern life', in the words of Charles Baudelaire. Peyton's miniature portraits capture the spirit of the times in an artistic language that unmistakeably reflects late 20th-century urban sensitivity.
The exhibition starts with portraits of Napoleon Bonaparte, pop icons Sid Vicious and Kurt Cobain, and fashion designer Marc Jacobs, and shows a development towards an increasing eclecticism and anachronism in Peyton's choices of subject, ranging from her personal circle of friends to admired predecessors from the history of art, such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Frida Kahlo. Peyton's intimate portraits often appear unrealistic, compared to the public star status of many of her models. Peyton makes them small both literally and figuratively in order to visualise a more genuine beauty.
Elizabeth Peyton belongs to a select group of artists who developed a unique mix of realism and conceptualism in their work in the early 1990's, in which Peyton consciously reverted to narrative figurative techniques in contemporary painting. Her work pays tribute to the 19th-century French modernist painting of Gros up to Manet, and is directly reminiscent of the work of David Hockney, Alex Katz and Andy Warhol particularly their celebrity portraits. Peyton's dedication to reviving a new sort of popular art that attempts to forge a link between art and life is authentic, and her work is pervaded with the times we live in. In her work, which is small in size but makes a large gesture, Peyton has breathed new life into the ancient genre of portrait painting.
In collaboration with the New Museum, New York, and Phaidon, a catalogue has been published: Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton, containing a broad selection of works, photos and source material by the artist. The catalogue is available from the museum shop.
Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton has been organised by the New Museum, New York.