The first exhibition in Ireland by Elizabeth Peyton, one of the most outstanding American artists of her generation, opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art
on Wednesday 1 April 2009. Elizabeth Peyton: Reading and Writing presents some 20 works, comprising carefully selected portraits of youthful, romantic individuals and still lifes depicting table tops covered with books, bouquets of flowers and collectables, chosen to work in harmony with the domestic setting of the East Ground Galleries at IMMA. Presenting paintings and works on paper, the exhibition illustrates an intensely personal body of work, which confidently places beauty at the centre of contemporary art. The exhibition has a particular focus on poetry and literature, interiors and photographs, desire and love.
Peyton first came to prominence in the early 1990s as one of the few young artists exploring figurative painting. Although her paintings owe a clear debt to 19th-century masters, such as Edouard Manet and John Singer Sargent, Peytons work also demonstrates an intimate understanding of 20th-century artists, such as David Hockney, Alex Katz and Andy Warhol. Despite these influences, Peyton has developed a highly personal body of work, deeply rooted in her surroundings and her readings. Her dazzling palette of jewel-like colours and her refined graphic sensibility are combined in enormously seductive works, both in content and form. Over the years her work has evolved into an increasingly fascinating chronicle of contemporary American life and culture.
The portraits and still lifes in the exhibition encapsulate many of Peytons favourite sources of inspiration, which have included William Shakespeare, 19th-century Realist or Romantic authors, Nouvelle Vague filmmakers of the 1960s and present day singer-poets, such as Patti Smith and Bob Dylan. An early work, Oscar and Bosie, 1998, depicts Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas, two infamous doomed lovers. Here Peyton characteristically brings together the subculture of a past age with contemporary popular culture, as the faces of Wilde and Bosie are interchangeable with those of Stephen Fry and Jude Law, who portrayed Wilde and Douglas in the 1997 film Wilde. The drawing Patti and Bob (After Judy Linn with Dylan mask 1971), 2006, with its nostalgic 1970s feel, is based on a photograph by Judy Linn showing Patti Smith holding a photograph of Bob Dylan in front of her face. The Age of Innocence, 2007, again combines the historic and the contemporary in its representation of Countess Olenska and Newland Archer, the illicit lovers in Edith Whartons novel, who bear a striking resemblance to the stars of Martin Scorseses 1993 film version Michelle Pfeiffer and Daniel Day-Lewis.
Born in 1965 in Danbury , Connecticut , USA , Elizabeth Peyton lives and works in New York . A major retrospective of her work, Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton, was shown at the New Museum in New York in 2008/09 and tours to Walker Art Center , Minneapolis , Whitechapel Art Gallery , London , and Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht . Solo exhibitions include Aldrich Museum of Art, Connecticut, 2008; Gavin Browns enterprise, New York , 2008; neugerriemschneider, Berlin , 2006; Sadie Coles HQ, London , 2005, and the Royal Academy , London , 2002. Group exhibitions include The Painting of Modern Life, Hayward Gallery, London , 2007; Getting Emotional, ICA Boston, 2005; Contemporary Painting, curated by artist Alex Katz for Colby College Museum of Art, Maine, and the Whitney Biennial, New York , 2004, and Dear Painter, Paint for me, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 2002.
The exhibition is curated by Rachael Thomas , Senior Curator: Head of Exhibitions, IMMA.