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Elizabeth Peyton (b. 1965)
Tokyo (Craig)
signed, titled and dated 'Tokyo (CRAIG) November 1997 Elizabeth Peyton' (on the reverse)
oil and plaster on panel
10¼ x 8 1/8in. (26 x 20.8cm)
Executed in 1997
Sadie Coles HQ, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
D. Hickey, M. Higgs, S. Lafreniere and R. Smith (eds.), Elizabeth Peyton, New York 2005, p. 260 (illustrated in colour, p. 117).
Basel, Kunstmuseum Basel. Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Elizabeth Peyton, 1998, no. 7. This exhibition later travelled to Wolfsburg, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg.
Hamburg, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Elizabeth Peyton, 2001-2002 (illustrated in colour, p. 50).
New York, New Museum, Elizabeth Peyton: Live Forever, 2008-2010, p. 242 (illustrated in colour, p. 130). This exhibition later travelled to Minneapolis, Walker Art Center; London, Whitechapel Art Gallery and Maastricht, Bonnefantenmuseum.

Lot Essay

'I think about 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 others. And I find this in people I see frequently as much as in people I never met'
(E. Peyton, quoted in Elizabeth Peyton, exh. cat., Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Hamburg, 2001, p. 6).

Compellingly intimate and enigmatic, Tokyo (Craig) is Elizabeth Peyton's tender portrait of Craig Wadlin, a friend and fellow artist. Deftly executed in tones of deep indigo, we see a clearly defined silhouette of a man standing before a window. Light floods the room through half-drawn curtains, throwing the man into shadow and shrouding him in mystery. The painting is a snapshot of a moment within the artist's personal life, yet evinces a half-forgotten memory, or a film still, which gives the subject a timeless quality and the painting a more universal resonance. Tokyo (Craig) has further importance as a part of a wider body of portraits that Peyton was doing at the time, which focused on a small community of creative friends - artists, musicians, writers, dancers and designers - living between London, New York and Berlin.

The sitter for this portrait was twenty-four-year-old Craig Wadlin, who was a familiar presence in Peyton's work during the 1990s. At the time, he was one of eight enterprising art school undergraduates who founded the artist's collective, Art Club 2000. The group, whose other members included Soibian Spring, Sarah Rossiter, Will Rollins, Shannon Pultz, Daniel McDonald, Gillian Haratani and Patterson Beckwith, had met at the Cooper Union in New York's East Village and were producing provocative exhibitions as well as making art. The group, formed at the instigation of Colin de Land, the late New York gallerist who became known for his anti-conventional commercial gallery, American Fine Arts, Co., was formed partly in opposition to the ever celebrity-obsessed New York art world of the time.

Throughout her career Peyton has proved her ability to capture contemporary Pop Culture, in the tradition of David Hockney and Andy Warhol, in sumptuous, painterly brushwork reminiscent of 19th century society portraits. Tokyo (Craig) is a classic example of this distinctive juxtaposition, which allows her paintings to work on both aesthetic and conceptual levels. In recent years the cast of characters to be found in Peyton's portraits has expanded from close acquaintances to include celebrities and historical figures who have appealed to her, ranging from Leonardo DiCaprio to Marie Antoinette. Peyton's wish to identify with a person's charisma, however, is the essential drive in choosing a subject for her work.

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