Take 2- International Women’s Day Featured Artist: Elizabeth Peyton

Seeing as I take inspiration from so many female artists, I thought I had to celebrate more than one! Here is a little bit about another fantastic painter, Elizabeth Peyton:

Elizabeth Joy Peyton is an American painter who was born in Connecticut in 1965. Her most famous portraits are of attractive, androgynous young men painted in an idealised way; this usually reflects the audience’s view of the subjects as they range from popular musicians to royal heartthrobs. Although Peyton works in a range of media including watercolours and pencil, she is famed for her oil painted pieces. Her manipulation of this medium ranges from glazes and washes to thick, dripping strokes.

Peyton studied Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 1984 as she showed artistic talent from childh
ood, creating portraits at a very young age. She completed her time at School of Visual Arts in 1987 and went on to be represented by Gavin Brown. In the same year she had her first ever solo exhibition at Althea Viafora Gallery in SoHo, which also happens to be the artistic heart of Manhattan where Chuck Close set up studio. This exhibit was followed by Matthew Barney’s inaugural exhibition; she later collaborated with him on an art project called “Blood of Two” in 2009 on the Greek island of Hydra.

Her next exhibition was03peytonslide1 in 1993 at the Hotel Chelsea where she displayed many charcoal and ink drawings of Queen Elizabeth II and famous French historical figures such as Napoleon and Marie Antoinette. It was a rather low key affair, with less than 50 visitors to the exhibit. Her 2008 exhibit at the New Museum of Contemporary Art gained a much larger audience and also resulted in her works touring other galleries in London, Minneapolis and Mastricht.  The show included portraits with a greater focus on the mind and personality of the subject. These portraits were joined by a new oil painting of Michelle Obama and her daughter commissioned by W magazine the day after Barack Obama’s election victory. The portrait was not allowed to be shown until after Obama’s victory as the museum is a party neutral.

Her pieces are often thought to resemble Neo-Romanticism- a modern twist on the Romantic Movement which was recognised for the whimsical images and idealised features, much like Peyton’s elegant and slender portraits. Many of her pieces, whether they are male or female, have emphasised feminine features such as eyes and lips, this gives her pieces a mysterious androgynous quality and makes them seem more like fashion illustration than an actual portrait. This refined style draws some comparison with pop artists Andy Warhol and David Hockney, particularly Hockney’s portraiture work.

Peyton painted many friends and boyfriends; however she is most famed for her portraits of celebrities. She tended to focus on celebrities in creative fields such as Liam Gallagher, Marc Jacobs and Matthew Barney but also painted world renowned figures such as Abraham Lincoln as well as Princes Harry and William of England. These iconic images usually sell for a large amount of money, in fact her portrait of John Lennon sold for $800,000 in 2005.  Her choice of subject is interesting particularly as she never paints them in action, they are always relaxed, usually sitting or in a reclined position. She tends to work from photographs, usually secondary sourced i19-blueliamwebmages that have taken her fancy in magazines and editorials.

She also worked with Jonathan Horowitz which resulted in a collaborative artists’ book as well as a series of paintings and prints amongst other pieces which stemmed from their initial work on monotyopes of flowers in which they studied their symbolism surrounding love and death. This was not Peyton’s first experience of monotypes, in 1998 Parkett magazine commissioned her to create a lithograph which led her to experiment with monotypes as well as other types of printing.



International Women’s Day Featured Artist: Tamara de Lempicka


Tuesday 8th March marks International Women’s Day, so I thought I’d post a throwback to A-level and one of my favourite female painters:

Tamara de Lempicka was a Polish Art Deco painter famous for her angular, clear style

portraits of glamorous women in elegant, fashionable clothes. She was born in Warsaw, Poland to a wealthy family in 1898 to a lawyer and socialite- which is probably where Lempicka got her elegant style and rich tastes.portrait by Tamara de Lempicka

She found her love of fine art in Italy in 1911 where she spent her time with her grandmother. In 1912 she moved to Russia to live with her rich uncle as her parents had divorced. When she turned 15 she found the man she wanted to marry while she was at the opera and used her uncle’s connections to marry him. In 1917 she eventually escaped to Paris, along with her husband, during the Russian Revolution.

Lempicka developed her style through the Art Deco movement. She prefer
red the clean, sharp nature of this style compared to abstract artists and impressionists who used “dirty” colours. Instead she created her own unique niche in the Art Deco movement in which she chose to paint women, emphasising their sexuality, elegance and beauty.

Her portraits convey the luxury and fashion of the Roaring 20s, with women in fashionable clothes and make up which, until that decade, were considered risqué and improper. The women are usually depicted in their twenties and thirties, the height of their beauty and sensuality.

During her late 20s she had her first art exhibition in Milan after finding sponsorship. This was part of her breakthrough which recognised her portraits of the female form as fashionable and Avant garde. This breakthrough was the start of a career which brought her access to rich socialites and duchesses who commissioned their portraits and allowed her to display her art in many famous venues. Many of these portraits resemble her daughter (such as Young Lady with Gloves) whom she neglected; these representations may echo her guilty conscience, however she also purposefully created many portraits of her daughter, Kizette de Lempicka, showing that she did care de-lempicka-tamara-autoportrait-7000949after all.

Her portraits, like artists such as Kahlo, express her bisexuality and libido as she was well known for her outrageous affairs. She expressed her extreme desire through her studies of nudes, particularly focusing on femininity and the female form only occasionally depicting the male form. The composition and passion of these portraits make her lust very clear with passionate scenes with multiple naked forms.  Her nudes represented her lovers and love of seduction which later led to her divorce from her husband.

Her first visit to America occurred in 1929 with Baron Raoul Kuffner von Dioszeg, who she later married in 1934, where she painted portraits for Rufus Bush. She lost her money from her exhibition in Pittsburgh in the Stock Market Crash of 1929, however she was mostly unaffected by the Great Depression, this is largely down to high demand for her portraits and her high social status as a Baroness that came with her marriage to Dioszeg. Nobles such as Queen Elizabeth of Greece commissioned her work and renowned artists such as O’Keffe wanted to work with her. Her artwork evolved into portraits of saints and refugees with the coming of World War II but remained mostly unchanged, keeping with her Art Deco style and depictions of grandees.

International Women’s Day, Faculty of Science Photography Competition

You may have seen this photograph of a microscopy on my blog from late last year, well I entered it into our departmental photography competition and came joint third! It was a great result overall in anticipation of International Women’s day next week, with three of the four winners being female students.

I heard about the competition in “Scientific Creativity”and thought that my photographs from my laboratory work might come in useful. I chose to use this image of plant vascular tissue through a microscope as I thought that the structures looked rather abstract and artistic. The piece sums me up really, it manages to blend my two fields of science and art perfectly- it seems the judges agreed!