Preview: Elizabeth Peyton turns the Walker into Celeb City

There is cool and there is too-cool. The latter, in the case of contemporary art, often translates to “obscure.” But the exhibition opening this weekend at the Walker Art Center–“Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton”–is no more obscure than People magazine. Or Rolling Stone. Or, more accurately, Andy Warhol. 

Peyton, who is just 38, paints celebrities and not just any celebrities but the coolest ones–the Strokes, not the Jonas Brothers; Keith Richards, not Paris Hilton; Kurt Cobain, not his former wife. She’s also painted Abraham Lincoln, Princes William and Harry and other political figures. So where’s the art? You’re going to have to decide that for yourself, but look for clues in the incredible idealization, even romanticization, of these bohemian icons and wonder whether she’s reflecting their self-made images back to them (and us) for wry contemplation or simply in love with the idea of impetuous, individualistic artists as avatars of our better, hipper instincts.

In any case, it’s as accessible as Rolling Stones concert, at least on the surface, meaning the party on Friday evening promises to be as hip and glamorous as the opening for Frida, and nearly as packed.

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