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NEW WAVE NEW BEAT: PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE NEW YORK COLLECTION

Elizabeth Peyton
SID VICIOUS ARRESTED, CHELSEA HOTEL
Estimate
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Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 1,090,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
17

NEW WAVE NEW BEAT: PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE NEW YORK COLLECTION

Elizabeth Peyton
SID VICIOUS ARRESTED, CHELSEA HOTEL
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 1,090,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London

Elizabeth Peyton
B. 1965
SID VICIOUS ARRESTED, CHELSEA HOTEL
titled and numbered EP 269 on the reverse
oil on canvas
101.5 by 76 cm. 40 by 30 in.
Executed in 1998.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Sadie Coles HQ, London
Private Collection, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

London, The Saatchi Gallery, Young Americans 2: New American Art at the Saatchi Gallery, July - December 1998

Catalogue Note

Endowed with a sweet melancholic quality, Sid Vicious Arrested, Chelsea Hotel (1998) by Elizabeth Peyton is a highly dramatised work that re-lives the downward spiral of Sex Pistols icon Sid Vicious, as he is arrested for the murder of his then-girlfriend, Nancy Spungen.

In a style akin to Douglas Blau and Richard Prince, Peyton reinterprets an image by photojournalist Allan Tannenbaum and reshapes Vicious in stillness and silence, as he appears enraptured by deep reflective melancholia. Detached from the frenzy and pandemonium, Peyton intimately zooms into Vicious, such that the viewer is compelled to gaze closely at the protagonist. Silencing the paparazzi behind a morose blue backdrop, the viewer only catches a subtle glimpse of the flash bulbs, and a blurred image of Vicious’ captor. In this solitary, almost dream-like moment, all logical elements of the situation are suspended and beauty trumps disenchantment.

By distorting the original photograph, Peyton comments on the superficiality of the photographic image and its ability to distort and exaggerate moments. By diminishing the traditional distance of portraiture, she not only venerates her subjects as saints and icons, but also imbues them with a familiarity that resonates with romantic devotion: one that takes into account both their glories and faults. In the process, she reanimates nineteenth-century traditions of portraiture, which glorified high art, whilst also finding beauty in unifying the subject with expressions of humanity. Peyton explains: “It's almost a nineteenth-century idea that what's on the inside appears on the outside. Balzac was into the curve of your nose or mouth expressing some kind of inner quality that it could be read on your face” (Elizabeth Peyton quoted in: ‘Elizabeth Peyton’, The Index Magazine, 2000, online).

Peyton thus pursues beauty not only through painting distant historical figures like Napoleon, but also by portraying far-from-perfect contemporaries, including Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and Sid Vicious. She awakens the vulnerability of her subjects, bringing them to life by dramatising their expressions. In this case, Peyton stages the very moment of Vicious’ arrest, emphasising the dark circles under his eyes, as he is further humanised by Peyton’s addition of a teardrop.

Vicious‘ features are idealised: his skin, pale; his lips, red; he is bestowed with androgynous qualities, which in spite of his angst-ridden visage, bestow a sense of youth and innocence. In the process, she casts a feminine gaze over her icon, trumping the archaic system that forces men to appear macho and unfeeling; in a Caravaggio-esque manner Peyton portrays Vicious as a virginal male. As punk and Sex Pistols historian, Jon Savage, adds, “It's all right for disco divas to take off the slap when they get home, but rock stars have to be who they are, offstage and on. This absurd state of affairs crucifies lives and stunts individual and collective growth. Peyton is careful to emphasise male tenderness” (Jon Savage, ‘Boys keep swinging, Elizabeth Peyton’, Frieze, November-December 1996, online).

Rather than diminishing Vicious’ rock star image, Peyton balances illusion with reality, to awaken the inner and hidden qualities of her protagonist. Large-in-scale in comparison to many of the artist’s portraits, Sid Vicious Arrested is a seminal work that democratises portraiture by borrowing from a public photograph and subsequently reimagines it as fiction.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London