From David Bowie to Queen Elizabeth, the Portrait According to Elizabeth Peyton
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What are David Bowie, Kurt Cobain and Liam Gallagher doing amidst portraits of the Tudors? They are showing off the art of Elizabeth Peyton, the first painter for whom the National Portrait Gallery has created an exhibition that spans the entire breadth of its own collection. Born in Connecticut and based in New York, Peyton first gained notoriety in the ‘90s with her thin and elongated figures whose faces were recognisably those of princes and pop stars, famed artists and plain old everyday people. Today, she is a world famous painter, whose works are present in collections of such cultural institutions as the Centre Pompidou in Paris and New York City’s MoMa. Her preferred type are smaller-sized portraits - inspired by the photography of Nadar, Alfred Stieglitz and Robert Mapplethorpe, working with oil paints, prints and water colours, giving life to stylised silhouettes, reminiscent of fashion photography to some. From Napoleon to Frida Kahlo, from Elizabeth II to David Hockney - Peyton’s most beloved painter - the London exhibition follows three decades of career, starting with the early paintings and going up to the most recent works over the last several years. Paint drippings, special ink, hand-made paper - these all make for a varied and unusual itinerary. And after the 40 works united in a traditional manner on display, the public is invited to seek out those others “hidden” among the museum’s historic gems.