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Elizabeth Joy Peyton

painter , writer

Born in Connecticut in 1965, Elizabeth Peyton is one of a small number of young artists who, in spite of contemporary tastes and the controversy about abstraction and formal innovation, rediscovered figurative painting at the end of the twentieth century. Her work is remarkably consistent, and represents a kind of popular realism that exercised considerable influence on contemporary art in the United States and Europe in the mid-nineties.


Peyton, Elizabeth Joy was born on December 20, 1965 in Danbury, Connecticut, United States. Daughter of Paul Leason and Elizabeth Ann (Gordon).


Bachelor, School Visual Arts, New York City, 1987.


Peyton's subject is the portrait—both historical personages and contemporary cultural icons feature in her paintings.

In 1996, she began to portray close friends, artists, writers, musicians, and DJs from New York, London, and Berlin. What mattered to the artist was "how influential some people are in others' lives. So it doesn't matter who they are or how famous they are but rather how beautiful is the way they live their lives and how inspiring they are for other people."

In addition to Marie Antoinette, Napoleon, and Ludwig II of Bavaria, figures that caught the painter's attention include Frida Kahlo, Leonardo DiCaprio, Pete Doherty, and Oscar Wilde.

She produces her generally small-format oil paintings, watercolors, and drawings from her own photos, pictures from magazines, CD covers, and video stills, or after reading and interpreting biographies and novels. Far from simply reproducing what she sees and reads or lauding celebrities, Peyton attempts to pierce the impersonal element of her subjects and get close to the person.

Peyton at first exhibited in unconventional places such as hotels or private sitting rooms, but today her work is widely known. In 2004, the artist began to paint from life in her Manhattan studio.


  • 1987 - First exhibition at the Althea Viafora Gallery, New York.

    2008 - The New Museum of Contem-porary Art, New York shows the retrospective Live Forever.

    2009 - Blood of Two, performance in collaboration with Matthew Barney on the Greek island of Hydra.


  • Other Interests

    Swimming, surfing the internet.


Married Rirkrit Tiravanija, July 21, 1991.

Paul Leason Peyton

Elizabeth Ann (Gordon) Peyton

Rirkrit Tiravanija