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Vermeer's 
Girl with a 
Pearl Earring

   
       
 

Elizabeth Peyton 

   
 

Face to face...

   

 

  

 

We recently wrote about the New Museum - and now seems to be the perfect opportunity to go down to the Bowery and take in the gallery of portraits in Elizabeth Peyton's Live Forever - a collection of well over a hundred paintings including faces drawn from history, popular culture, and the artist's own circle of friends. 

The art of the portrait - as old as mankind - faces on ancient frescoes, lines scratched on the sand, eternal and ephemeral.  The search for immortality and the very human desire to see ourselves, to capture history and time.  A mirror of sorts; it's human nature to want to draw and paint the human face, to try to reach in and grasp some indefinable spirit.  The genre of portrait-painting became highly developed some time between the late middle ages and the seventeenth century.  The individual came into focus and it also became a way of controlling one's image for the noblemen and merchants who commissioned such paintings.  Portrait types became developed - full-length, profile, three-quarter view . . . .  The notion of the difference between verisimilitude and an idealized image was explored and the idea of bringing out the character and the inner qualities or the essence of the sitter was developed.  Elizabeth Peyton continues this art form that has so engaged the popular consciousness from Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring through modern times in the work of Andy Warhol and Chuck Close. 

Peyton's first show at the Chelsea Hotel in 1993 had paintings of Napoleon, Marie, Antoinette, and Queen Elizabeth and she has in essence remained a portraitist.  Peyton's paintings have rich, jeweled colors, elements of the miniature, a certain raffish raggedness.  The show at the New Museum includes portraits of celebrities, friends, historical figures, and moves from lissome pretty boys to a Matthew Barney with baggy circles under eyes.  They are generally close-ups, executed with a fine light hand, the colors saturated.  A contemporary take on an ancient art - face to face with eternity! 

 

Visit: Live Forever, Elizabeth Peyton

Visit: The National Portrait Gallery  

 

Tags:  art  museums      

 

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