In the face (to excuse the pun) of the camera, television and the Internet, Siegel explains that leading American portraitists like Peyton, Alex Katz, Alfred Leslie and Chuck Close have "hungered to reclaim the face." But the faces that Peyton is reclaiming are eerily familiar. What Siegel sees in Peyton's portaits of her "languid stick-like" friends are images of the artist herself as well as of ephemeral bloodless celebrity:
Peyton, it would seem, is not so much painting herself -- as all of our faces in the digital age of dreaminess, celebrity and sameness. Her art reminds me of the people I see on planes and in airports staring at photography magazines of empty faced celebrities. Yes, like dogs resembling their masters, these people end up looking like celebrities. Which is another way of saying that they've had all the blood and guts sucked out their faces. As Siegel says of Peyton's "dreamy insubstantial" faces -- they are "all waiting to be fulfilled by fantasies that will never be realized."
As Siegel suggests, we've come a long way from Rembrandt van Rijn's sensuous 1635 "Saskia With a Veil" with its face as the world to Peyton's painting of the face as an empty-vessel. It's no wonder that Lee Siegel is such a critic of the digital revolution. He's looked it in the face and its obviousl that he doesn't like what he's seen.