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Sid Vicious Arrested, Chelsea Hotel, Elizabeth Peyton, 1998
Elizabeth Peyton is an American contemporary artist working primarily in painting, drawing and printmaking. Best known for her figurative work of close friends, historical personae and icons of contemporary culture. One of Petyon’s first exhibitions in New York City was held in a room of the Chelsea Hotel, which at various times was home to Iggy Pop, Dee Dee Ramone, Patti Smith, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Madonna and Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungen amongst many others. People wishing to see the exhibition would ask the hotel reception for the key to Room 828.
Peyton often works from photography generally using her chosen medium to explore successive degrees of removal from her source material, allowing her to explore “harder-to-reach things inside herself” because the composition is already decided. Her subject matter moves from historical to contemporary figures often installed side by side continuing off of the previous artists who photographed them allowing the subjects to, as her 2009 survey was titled, “Live Forever”.
My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) was recorded by Neil Young in 1978, inspired by the rise of punk and what Young viewed as his own growing irrelevance. Written shortly after the death of Elvis Presley who Young had compared to the rise of Sex Pistols’ singer Johnny Rotten in that Presely had also been disparaged as a dangerous influence only to later become an icon. By the time the song was released on Rust Never Sleeps, 1979, Sex Pistols’ bass player Sid Vicious had overdosed giving far more weight to the line “It's better to burn out than fade away”, which years later was repeated in the suicide note of Kurt Cobain.
Neil Young explained the line as follows:
“The rock'n'roll spirit is not survival. Of course the people who play rock'n'roll should survive. But the essence of the rock'n'roll spirit to me, is that it's better to burn out really bright than to sort of decay off into infinity. Even though if you look at it in a mature way, you'll think, "well, yes… you should decay off into infinity, and keep going along". Rock'n'roll doesn't look that far ahead. Rock'n'roll is right now. What's happening right this second. Is it bright? Or is it dim because it's waiting for tomorrow—that's what people want to know. And that's why I say that,”