Anh Duong

A portrait of the painter in her West Village studio.

  • Words Laura Rysman
  • Photography Billy Kidd
  • Styling Debbie Hsieh
  • Hair/Makeup Ashleigh Ciucci

“Artists create their own world. I was attracted to that freedom.”

With rouged lips, red-lacquered nails, wide eyes and bowed brows that look inked by a fine-tipped brush, the artist Anh Duong sits on a velvet couch in her West Village apartment. Graceful and pole-straight like the ballerina she once was, Duong, now 57, is a rebuke to the notion that beauty belongs to the young. Behind her hangs a self-portrait—an almost gnarled reflection of herself in thigh-high stockings and garish smudges of makeup, a cluster of wilting, vulvic calla lilies gripped between her legs. One eye stares you down while the other, unnervingly, wanders. The 2008 painting Philosophy and Prostitution is Duong, but inside out.

Duong is a portraitist and, as her own most frequent subject, a diarist on canvas. She’s painted famous friends, among them: Anjelica Huston, Susan ...

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