Celeste Dupuy-Spencer

Selected Works

Through the Laying of the Hands (Positively Demonic Dynamism)

2018
oil on linen
121.9 x 101.6 cm.; 48 x 40 in.

“The work in Celeste Dupuy-Spencer’s recent show […] had all the right references without the right reverence. There are baptisms, worship sessions, choirs on altars, exorcisms. Indeed, the exorcism in Dupuy-Spencer’s 2018 painting, Through the Laying on of Hands (Positively Dynamic Demonism), appears to be going quite well. Three men up at the altar wear church suits, crisp white shirts and suspenders. The other men wear jeans. A woman who looks like Margaret Thatcher has her hand on the afflicted man’s shoulder. Demons of all breeds fly out of his gaping mouth—aliens, reptiles, screaming men. The painting is full of loosely rendered flesh, packed-in bodies, fast fashion, and smoke. It could be interpreted as crass, a representation of religious pageantry at its worst, or as an empathetic attempt to understand such spiritual passion.”

C. Wagley, ‘Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Figurative Religion’, in Carla, no. 14, 2018

The Chiefest of Ten Thousand (Sarah 2)

2018
oil on linen
266.7 x 243.8 cm.; 105 x 96 in.

“Celeste Dupuy-Spencer invokes the devotional in her portraits and landscape scenes. […] The Chiefest of Ten Thousand (Sarah 2) […] takes its name from a declaration of physical beauty in the biblical Song of Solomon: ‘My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.’ The painting portrays an intimate sexual act, with the exposed back of a woman at its centre, kneeling like a penitent saint at the altar of her lover. This woman is plenty awkward – the outline of bra straps cut into her torso; her bony ribs protrude – yet her elongated, exposed musculature is imposing, even grand.”

S. Krug, ‘Celeste Dupuy-Spencer: Fusing the Formal and the Informal’, in Frieze Magazine, no. 200, 2019 [https://www.frieze.com/article/celeste-dupuy-spencer-fusing-formal-and-informal]

Dutchess County Border (Matriarchs of the 90’s Line)

2018
oil on linen
243.8 x 304.8 cm.; 96 x 120 in.

“A sense of gaiety permeates Dutchess County Border (Matriarchs of the 90’s Line), a frontal group portrait of happy friends smoking cigarettes and drinking beer in a cluttered living room, their poses evoking both The Last Supper and a worker’s guild portrait – a fusing of the formal and the informal on a lazy Sunday afternoon. There’s a simple, palpable joy to this gathering of people who care for and support one another.”

S. Krug, ‘Celeste Dupuy-Spencer: Fusing the Formal and the Informal’, in Frieze Magazine, no. 200, 2019 [https://www.frieze.com/article/celeste-dupuy-spencer-fusing-formal-and-informal]

George Jones Greeting the Newest Members of Heaven’s Band

2017
oil on linen
165.1 x 215.9 cm.; 65 x 85 in.
Collection: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, promised gift of Heather and Theodore Karatz (2018)

“There is a strong through-line in Dupuy-Spencer’s work, too, chosen linages and chosen families, those based on affinity and care, of an idealized form of kinship, as in works such as Dutchess County Border (Matriarchs of the 90’s Line) (2018) or George Jones Greeting the Newest Members of Heaven’s Band (2017), both of which recall altarpiece paintings or other forms of devotional imagery.”

A. D’souza, ‘Celeste Dupuy-Spencer’, in Unrealism. New Figurative Painting, New York: Rizzoli and Electra, 2019, pp. 170

Sarah

2017
oil on linen
165.1 x 127 cm.; 65 x 50 in.

“I don’t think about myself as a queer person when I’m painting. I don’t even think about myself as a queer person when I’m painting myself with Sarah. We got together after the election of Trump, sticking together through the inauguration and all the anxiety, these moments when we were just weeping. I was also weeping because all the work my grandmother had put in for the Left, explicitly for women’s rights, gay rights, and the Civil Rights Movement – all which was being undone. These were, and still are, irrational, emotional, and scary times, and we clung together, finding comfort in each other, massaging each others heads in bed at home. I hope what transcends the painting I made of us is love. Just that.”

K. Copper, ‘Celeste Dupuy-Spencer by Kathrine Cooper’, in Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Los Angeles: Nino Mier Gallery, 2018, n.p.

Durham, August 14, 2017

2017
oil on linen
71.1 x 88.9 cm.; 28 x 35 in.

“Durham, August 14, 2017 is a painting of the statue of a Confederate soldier, after its destruction by a North Carolina crowd following the racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Dupuy-Spencer has chosen an angle from which the soldier’s hands are still visible among the whorls of metal. The metal is very flat in color, making the statue seem ersatz, plasticky. By contrast, the crowd of people around it are a host of multicolored and dreamlike legs. In the distribution of technique across this painting, Dupuy-Spencer draws out an experience of this important political object that has otherwise not been part of the public discourse around it. It is ekphrastic, but this artwork also depicts another work of art: in the wreckage of the fallen statue, Dupuy-Spencer sees a monument to search for justice.”

J. Livingston, ‘Celeste Dupuy-Spencer Is Painting the News’, in The New Republic, 2017 [https://newrepublic.com/article/144823/celeste-dupuy-spencer-painting-news]

Early Snow – Rhinecliff Hotel

2017
oil on linen
127 x 165.1 cm.; 50 x 65 in.

“It’s a painting of one of those fluke snows we sometimes get up in the Hudson Valley in the beginning or middle of autumn. Suddenly, it snows while all the leaves are still on the trees. And then it warms up again, and the snow turns to mud. It can be pretty damaging to the trees. Disastrous for the maples! Those stars above the hotel were actually painted by my best friend, Mariah Garnett, who came in and rescued me on a day of tiny dot-making a week before the painting shipped to New York. […] The Rhinecliff Hotel was the local bar for all of us from the towns around there. I was a regular by the time I was fifteen. Mariah was there, too. It was really important to me, and while it may not be the greatest idea for a young teen to be drinking regularly, it made me feel like there was a place I belonged. The bar was filled with the most wonderful people I have ever known (and some really bad ones, too). It was sloped and smelly, and the paint was peeling. Packed with locals. I loved that place. I actually used to have my school bus drop me off there! So, intrinsically there is a tangible feeling of disaster in that place for me. I’m filled with deep tenderness for it, having the fondest memories of that bar between age fourteen and twenty — isn’t that a disaster?! It was eventually closed and then reopened as a historic hotel or something where you can have a wedding or spend the night for 150 to 300 dollars. That’s the perfect story for what has happened to the Hudson Valley, really.”

K. Copper, ‘Celeste Dupuy-Spencer by Kathrine Cooper’, in Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Los Angeles: Nino Mier Gallery, 2018, n.p.

Not Today Satan

2017
oil on linen
88.9 x 71.1 cm.; 35 x 28 in.

“Dreams and magic continue in Not Today Satan, a painting with a funny title and an interesting subject matter. In the back of a cop car sits a ghoul. On top, a host of goblin-ish figures cavort. One is wearing a gold chain. Just beyond them, a Delacroix horse rolls its eyes in terror. In the front seats the oblivious, blankly-staring human officers drive. At the base of the painting the cop slogan POLICE PROTECT AND SERVE is legible. The juxtaposition of this platitude with the joyful burlesque of demons constitutes a lighthearted, anarchic commentary on police brutality.”

J. Livingston, ‘Celeste Dupuy-Spencer Is Painting the News’, in The New Republic, 2017 [https://newrepublic.com/article/144823/celeste-dupuy-spencer-painting-news]

Trump Rally (And Some of them I Assume Are Good People)

2016
pencil on paper
61 x 76.2 cm.; 24 x 30 in.

“Celeste Dupuy-Spencer’s paintings constitute an inventory of white experience, a project that has taken on an added urgency in the age of Trump. ‘I’m really trying to paint this moment in America, this moment that white people in America are being called towards.’ she said in a recent interview.  ‘Now we get to not shake off what we are, to acknowledge it. And after violent deconstruction there is actually a possibility of redemption. It’s hard, because it produces a lot of fallen heroes, fallen ancestors. But once you do it honestly you get to look at the ancestors again in a more complete way.’”

A. D’Souza, ‘Painting in Black and White: Race and the New Figurative Art’, in Garage, 2017 [https://garage.vice.com/en_us/article/8x8kwk/race-and-the-new-figurative-art-jordan-casteel-celeste-dupuy-spencer]

Past Present Future

2011
watercolour, gouache and graphite on paper
18.1 x 26 cm.; 7 1/8 x 10 1/4 in.

“In high school I was looking at Egon Schiele and Alice Neel. They were big influences on me. Our art teacher took us on a field trip to New York City to see the John Waters film retrospective, which blew my mind out of my head. My mother had a ton of books on classical painters, like Caravaggio, and the greats of the Renaissance, whom I loved, but no books on contemporary art. Also, being a kid growing up in Rhinebeck, my aesthetic is 1990s Hudson Valley. My paintings seemed to be of people who I loved very much, but they didn’t actually exist. The people I painted were just out of my head.

Some of these early paintings look really religious. Or romantic. This was probably because I was looking at so much Michelangelo and Giotto in my staunchly secular home. But the things that influenced my work have mostly been personal experiences as seen via politics and music.”

C. Dupuy-Spencer and K. Copper, ‘Celeste Dupuy-Spencer by Kathrine Cooper’, in Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Los Angeles: Nino Mier Gallery, 2018, n.p.