Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration?

Elizabeth Peyton, forty-two, is having her first big survey exhibition at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. She sells her paintings for up to three hundred thousand dollars today, but back in 1990 her inspiration began very modestly – reading books.

"I'd graduated from the School of Visual Arts a few years earlier," she continued, "and I was living with my ex-boyfriend in a tiny apartment on the Lower East Side. Earlier that summer, I'd lost my job, as an assistant to Ronald Jones, a teacher at S.V.A. I didn't have any money, and I was so ashamed of myself for not having a job. All I did was read. I read a book on Napoleon, by Vincent Cronin, and a book by Stefan Zweig on Marie Antoinette. I read Stendahl's 'The Charterhouse of Parma' and 'The Red and the Black.' Even though I was miserable, I was eating up every word in those books. And somehow I came out of this knowing what I wanted to do."

She began painting real and fictional characters from her readings, such as portraits of Napolean. Elizabeth II, and Ludwing II of Bavaria. She believed that people contain “their time” in their faces. She then began painting pop cultural icons, including Kurt Cobain, Leoanrd diCaprio, and Eminem. Since 9/11 her focus has changed again, and paints the people and places that are important to her. The painting above is a self-portrait.

The quotation is from an article in the New Yorker, October 6, 2008 by Calvin Tomkins.
You can read the entire article about Ms Peyton using the Library's Masterfile database.

Click the yellow Database rectangle under "Highlights" on the Library's homepage. Select "Articles and News" under Subject Guide on the right-hand side. Select Masterfile Premiere and enter your Library card number.

1. Type Elizabeth Peyton in the search box.
2. Type New Yorker in the publication box.
3. Click on Search.

More information on Ms Peyton:

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