b. 1958, USA

Henry Taylor Biography

With characters borrowed from history, media, and personal life, Henry Taylor's potent paintings are careful interrogations of life, particularly of African American life, addressing the themes of class, homelessness, politics, and racial and economic disparity in the United States.

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Born in Oxnard, California, Taylor studied journalism and interior design amongst other topics at five colleges across California before working as a psychiatric technician at Camarillo State Mental Hospital in the 1980s and early 1990s. He received a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 1995 and began to build his distinctive style, inspired by powerful figurative paintings of American artists such as Alice Neel, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Jacob Lawrence.

In the early years of his career, Taylor painted on an extensive range of materials including shoebox lids, furniture, and cereal boxes. Untitled (2004), which depicts a desert scene with camels and an oasis, is painted on a row of five cigarette packs, while a piece of found-wood cutting board serves as the canvas for Ardmore (2004), a portrait of a man in a white shirt.

The subjects of Henry Taylor's artworks vary, from friends and family to strangers he encountered on the streets, typically captured in flat and saturated swathes of colour. My Brother Randy (2008), for example, shows one of the artist's seven siblings smiling against a sky-blue background and what appears to be a sofa. At his solo exhibition Henry Taylor With a New Film by Kahlil Joseph at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, in 2016, the artist examined the conditions of homelessness by bringing objects such as bottles, rubbish bags, and a tent into the gallery space. Portraits of anonymous figures were also exhibited, such as a man holding up a cardboard sign in Too Sweet (2016).

Taylor's protagonists are often well-known figures from the African American community borrowed from historical photographs or popular culture. Huey Newton (2007) is based on a photograph of the founder of the Black Panther Party. The photo and its resultant painting shows Newton holding a rifle and a spear. Meanwhile A Jack Move—Proved It (2011) portrays Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball. The artist also freely merges time periods, such as in Cicely and Miles Visit the Obamas (2017), which is derived from a famous photograph of Cicely Tyson and Miles Davis from 1968. Instead of attending a film premiere, however, Tyson and Davis have presumably traversed time to visit president of the United States Barack Obama's family in the White House.

Taylor's aptitude has been for creating bold and dignified portrayals in art of African Americans confronting the difficulties they face in daily life. This is especially evident in his artworks depicting victims of police violence, such as Homage to a Brother (2007), a portrait of Sean Bell that was included in the artist's solo art exhibition Sis and Bra at The Studio Museum in Harlem in 2007, or THE TIMES THAY AINT A CHANGING, FAST ENOUGH! (2017), dedicated to Philando Castile and exhibited at the Whitney Biennial in 2017.

Taylor lives and works in Los Angeles.

Ocula | 2019

Henry Taylor Featured Artworks

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Untitled (Portrait of Jesse Williams) by Henry Taylor contemporary artwork painting
Henry Taylor Untitled (Portrait of Jesse Williams), 2020 Acrylic on canvas
101.6 x 101.6 x 3.8 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire
Untitled by Henry Taylor contemporary artwork sculpture
Henry Taylor Untitled, 2021 Mixed media
100.8 x 147 x 63.5 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire
Untitled by Henry Taylor contemporary artwork painting, drawing
Henry Taylor Untitled, 2018 Acrylic and charcoal on canvas
195.6 x 195.6 x 3.8 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire
Emma Jenney and Her Favorite Guitar by Henry Taylor contemporary artwork painting
Henry Taylor Emma Jenney and Her Favorite Guitar, 2019 Acrylic on linen
161 x 113.7 cm
Blum & Poe Contact Gallery
Portrait of Lorraine Nicholson by Henry Taylor contemporary artwork painting
Henry Taylor Portrait of Lorraine Nicholson, 2019 Acrylic on canvas
152.4 x 121.9 cm
Blum & Poe Contact Gallery
ain't No Mo cotton by Henry Taylor contemporary artwork painting
Henry Taylor ain't No Mo cotton, 2017 Acrylic on canvas
96 x 72 x 3 inches
Blum & Poe Contact Gallery
Everyone's Momma by Henry Taylor contemporary artwork painting
Henry Taylor Everyone's Momma, 2013 Acrylic on canvas
126 x 75 1/4 x 3 1/4 inches
Blum & Poe Contact Gallery

Henry Taylor Recent Exhibitions

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Henry Taylor Represented By

Blum & Poe contemporary art gallery in Tokyo, Japan Blum & Poe Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo
Hauser & Wirth contemporary art gallery in Hong Kong Hauser & Wirth Gstaad, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Menorca, Monte Carlo, New York, Somerset, Southampton, St. Moritz, Zurich

Henry Taylor In Ocula Magazine

Henry Taylor In Related Press

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Henry Taylor In Video & Audio

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