The beauty of Elizabeth Peyton’s work lies in it’s honesty. While the figures depicted within the portraits are idealized there remains an earnest and unsullied candor to the works themselves. They are windows not just into the spirit of those within the picture but also into the nature of the artist herself. By painting her heroes Peyton has given light to her inspirations and personality. Her subjects, people like Kurt Cobain, Sofia Coppola and Jarvis Cocker are fairly common aspirational avatars but something about Peyton’s sweeping, vulnerable brushstrokes clues us into why such people stand out in the first place.
The New Museum is set to display the first comprehensive American exhibition of Peyton’s work with the aptly titled, Live Forever. Naturally the usual suspects will be on display but it’s looking beyond the inferences celebrity creates and towards what small truths have been revealed that makes Peyton’s work truly worthwhile.