Friday, October 21, 2011

Lecture Notes: Elizabeth Peyton @ SAAM

Last week I went to hear painter Elizabeth Peyton speak about her work at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She used an unusual but lovely method of doing so. She made a short statement at the beginning of her presentation, then showed us over 100 images of her works in silence. They were projected large on a screen at the front of the auditorium; a few members of the audience seemed annoyed by the lack of narrative and departed. Most of us, however, sat in rapt attention watching the luminous images flash by.

After the slideshow, Peyton took many questions from the audience. Here are my notes on some of her answers.

-Painting is love & beauty & history captured two-dimensionally and telegraphed back to us over time.
-Literature (especially In Search of Lost Time & Balzac's writings) is very important to her, especially in understanding the life of the artist.
-She likes to work in a smaller scale and tries to make her paintings project into a room, to take up the maximum amount of space with a small amount of materials
-Printmaking generates a productive awkwardness. It is freeing because no one is expecting anything, and one can make a lot of work at once.
-She feels very connected to Romanticism, especially that Romantic sense of being totally alive.
-Painting communicated transcendence in human beings. It captures what is transcendent in an individual (beauty, vision, intelligence, etc.) and communicates that across time.
-The best things she got out of art school are good friends and learning to be self reliant.

(image: Elizabeth Peyton, Live to Ride (E.P.), 2003)

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