Elizabeth Peyton Artist

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The focus of Peyton’s work has been the small-scale portrait. She cites as inspiration the studio portraiture of Nadar, Alfred Stieglitz and Robert Mapplethorpe, who all photographed their friends and intimates. Her work is most often executed in oil paint, applied with washy glazes that are sometimes allowed or encouraged to drip, but also in watercolour, pencil, and etching. Her paintings are characterized by elongated, slender figures with androgynous features. Sexually ambiguous, feminine qualities are regularly emphasised. Her work at times resembles 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 for her art. She thus usually works from photographs. Before switching to a digital camera in 2002, Peyton shot her subjects with either a standard 35-millimeter or a Polaroid camera — with little attention to composition or lighting. Several of them are blurred or slightly out of focus.

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