Elizabeth Peyton

Since the birth of art, humans have painted themselves. But what do portraits mean today? And how do they continue to capture precious moments of history?

These portraits are a love letter to our time.

Back in 1990s New York, it was the heyday of conceptual art, film and new media. Modernism and pop art were long gone. Painting portraits wasn’t cool anymore. Despite all this, one young artist knew her calling.

I believed in painting and I believed it could be contemporary and powerful. I just had to figure out how.

Bella and Edward painting

Twilight, 2009

Portraiture was the only path for American painter Elizabeth Peyton. She had made pictures of people for as long as she could remember. 

I really like how people contain their time in their faces. And, you know, all of their individuality is in the expression of their face. You can see from it and feel.

Three decades later, Elizabeth is still painting her heroes.

I really love the people I paint. I believe in them. People tell their history.

Portrait painting of David Bowie

David Bowie, 2012

Painting of Barack and Michelle Obama's viral kiss

Barack and Michelle, 2008-2013

Painting of man sat at an orange table in an orange room drinking a beer

Jake at the New Viet Huong, 1995

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