I read a story about an artist yesterday. It was a great and emotive story, the kind of story that made me want to… well… puke up enough bile to rival the vomit of a thousand corpulent Jabbas the Hut. (See Blake? I can do that too!) OK, OK, that might not be quite fair. It was worse than that.
The story was in the October Vogue magazine. It was about Elizabeth Peyton.
In this story, we learn that Peyton is sweetly stupid and that writer Dodie Kazanjian is way impressed with this. (“I ask her how it feels to have her painting become so widely accepted.”) Oh, and we learn that Peyton wears a lot of Marc Jacobs clothes and that she has “an understated but stylish nonstyle.” Which, if you read Vogue a lot, probably means something.
But as silly as Dodie’s text is, it simply can’t rival Peyton’s silliness, nearly all of which is excitedly embraced by an apparently breathless Dodie. “I made some paintings of [Abraham Lincoln] the other day,” Peyton tells Dodie. “I discovered he looks a lot like Cameron Diaz.”
Right after swallowing this, Kazanjian tells us that Peyton is smart. “It turns out that what Peyton does isn’t as limited or as ‘light’ as people used to think.”
(Used to think?)
And, to be fair, Peyton probably is not a total doofus. How do I know this? Because everyone Kazanjian talks to for her story comes out sounding like a total moron (one exception: Gary Garrels). They can’t all be morons, can they? Can they?
“[Peyton's] pictures have a freshness that really speaks of this moment,” [Carnegie Museum curator] Laura Hoptman told Kazanjian. “The ambition is very large but the scope is very small. She is doing the universe on the head of a pin.”
Uh, yeah. OK, well, moving right along…
Kazanjian, who once wrote a book called Dodie Goes Shopping, makes mistakes that prove she doesn’t know about what she’s talking. “Peyton’s work, with its straight-from-the-tube chromatic richness, makes a compelling argument for the validity of paint on canvas,” Dodie writes. Paint on canvas needs to be validated? One other thing Dodie: Peyton does not paint on canvas. She paints on board.
Another surefire way to tell that someone writing about art is stuck is that they quote an artist’s dealer. And Kazanjian’s quote from Gavin Brown, Peyton’s dealer, is a doozy: “Here was a voice that was so clear and had so little to do with the pointless dialogue in the New York art world,” Brown tells Kazanjian. But that’s not enough. Dodie then flips the canvas (or board, or whatever) and quotes Peyton on her dealer! Thus, Peyton unwittingly contributed to what might be the most pointless paragraph in the history of American magazines. Peyton on Brown: “He gave me such hope that it was possible for me to be an artist.”
And you thought I was kidding about puking up bile. (How come no one ever quotes Andrea Rosen on John Currin? Now that would be fun!)
Oh but it gets worse! Marc Jacobs, who owns a lot of Peyton, contributes: “It’s women like Elizabeth who inspire me, women who are alive today and play a creative role in the world. Especially women who are alive, creative, and have lots of disposable income.” (Confession: I added that last part. I’m so ashamed.)
After Jacobs, Peyton is back with a masturbatory grope, this time when talking about a self-portrait she made (for Vogue!): “I suppose I was just looking at myself with a lot of respect and love.”
Which I believe. Because earlier in the story, Peyton offered up this gem: “I often think how transcendent it is that I love the Beatles and you love the Beatles. That can collapse a lot of barriers.”
Yes, like my esophagus.
Related: Todd Gibson disagrees.