Elizabeth Peyton's Pop Portraits

With cool subjects such as Kurt Cobain, Leonardo DiCaprio, Susan Sontag, and Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Peyton is a defining portraitist of her generation. VIEW OUR GALLERY.

Considered by many to be among the best portraitists working today, Elizabeth Peyton is being celebrated with a traveling retrospective that began at New York’s New Museum and is on view, through September 20, at London’s Whitechapel Gallery. Inspired by history and pop culture, Peyton’s subjects include Prince Harry, Kurt Cobain, Marc Jacobs, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Queen Elizabeth II. Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton features some 70 paintings and works on paper from the past 20 years, and is accompanied by a comprehensive catalog, published by Phaidon.

Click To View Works From Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton

A modern Manet, Peyton was born in Connecticut in 1965 and studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where she continues to live and work. Working from photographs and real life, Peyton makes small-scale works that capture her subjects in a wistful way. Her earliest works depict intimate looks at friends and lovers, such as the artists Tony Just and Rirkrit Tiravanija, and idolized views of rock stars, including Liam Gallagher, Jarvis Cocker, and Sid Vicious.

Artists of the past and literary subjects also intrigue Peyton. She’s painted enchanting renditions of Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Susan Sontag. Scenes from movies are equally inspiring, with snippets from Vincente Minnelli’s Madame Bovary, Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, and Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence entering her oeuvre via charcoal and paint. An artist with a heartfelt touch, sharp eye, and fluid spirit, Peyton is arguably one of the most talented chroniclers of our times.

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Paul Laster is the editor of Artkrush.com, a contributing editor at Flavorpill.com and Art Asia Pacific, and a contributing writer at Time Out New York and Art in America.