Lot 2
  • 2

Elizabeth Peyton

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  • Elizabeth Peyton
  • David Hockney, Age 32
  • signed, titled and dated on the reverse
  • oil on board
  • 16 x 13 in. 40.6 x 33 cm.
  • Painted in 1997-1998.


Sadie Coles Gallery, London
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1998


Basel, Museum für Gegenwartskunst; Wolfsburg, Germany, Kunstmuseum, Elizabeth Peyton, May - December 1998, cat. no. 12 (incorrect size)
London, Sadie Coles Gallery, Elizabeth Peyton: New Paintings, February - April 1998


Elizabeth Peyton et al., Elizabeth Peyton, New York, 2005, p. 119, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

David Hockney, Age 32 is an intimate and closely studied portrait of the artist reverberating with all the emotional energy of a candid family snapshot. One of a small number of works which depict Hockney, the present work belies Elizabeth Peyton’s admiration and curiosity for the artist with whom she would later exhibit at the 2004 Whitney Biennial in New York.

Selecting her subjects from among both her close friends and figures in the public eye, there is a democratisation in Peyton’s technique that recalls Warhol’s program to rescue portraiture from its elitist past. Blurring social boundaries, Peyton’s oeuvre presents a parallel aristocracy equally worthy of depiction, centering on individuals whose lives and actions she deems to be heroic and inspirational. A statesman of the art world and an influence on Peyton’s oeuvre, Peyton’s depiction of Hockney nonetheless bypasses the aura surrounding his fame, tapping into his personal history in a portrait which is devoid of the intrusive gaze of the media. As the artist explains: “There is no separation for me between people I know through their music or photos and someone I know personally. The way I perceive them is very similar, in that there’s no difference between certain qualities that I find inspiring in them.” (Elizabeth Peyton, Elizabeth Peyton, New York, 2005, p. 16).

Although executed in 1998 when Hockney was 61, the source of Peyton’s portrait is a photograph of the artist in his youthful prime. By the age of 32, Hockney was an internationally established artist; however Peyton’s portrait evokes vulnerability, endowing the image with an innate, adolescent romanticism common to her pantheon of celebrities each of whom stands for his own ideals of independence, beauty and artistry. Taking her source image from the shared repertoire of our image-saturated culture, lends a familiarity to the work which the viewer can share. Even if we do not recognise the specific source, we feel as though we do, as though in this moment, we are looking back at our own family photo album. In this way, Peyton’s paintings become intimates of both artist and viewer.

Despite their modest scale and deceptively casual manner, Peyton’s portraits draw the viewer like magnets, condensing emotion into the picture plane. Her concise brushstrokes imbue the photographic image with an emotional energy simultaneously recalling both Renaissance miniatures and Pre-Raphaelite romanticism. What is so stunning in David Hockney, Age 32 is the incandescent glow that results from the clear transparent glazes which allow the smooth surface of the white ground to shine through. This brilliant translucency of hue transforms this small votive image into a personal icon which throws into relief the way in which Peyton has drawn upon the history of devotional portraiture to formulate her own distinctly twenty-first century approach to subject matter, celebrity, and love.