Henry Taylor (artist)

Henry Taylor (born 1958) is an American artist and painter who lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Taylor is most well known for his acrylic paintings, mixed media sculptures, and installations.

Henry Taylor
Henry Taylor painting in studio.JPG
Artist Henry Taylor working on a painting
EducationCalifornia Institute of the Arts


Henry Taylor was born the youngest of eight brothers and sisters in Ventura, California, to a father who was employed by the U.S. government as a commercial painter and is listed as a painter on Henry's birth certificate.[1][2] Raised in Oxnard, California, Henry took art classes at Oxnard College under James Jarvaise, who became an ongoing mentor.[2]

After 10 years of working as a psychiatric technician at Camarillo State Mental Hospital, Taylor retired in 1997. He attended the California Institute for the Arts,[3] where in 1995, he obtained his Bachelor's of Fine Art.[4][5][6]


Taylor's largest output of work is in portraiture: he is known to paint obsessively, on various materials, including empty cigarette packs, detergent boxes, cereal boxes, suitcases, crates, bottles, furniture, and stretched canvas.[3][7][8][9] His subjects include family, friends, patients (when employed at the hospital), acquaintances, strangers, waitresses, celebrities, homeless people, himself, and also historical figures, cultural figures, sports heroes, politicians, and individuals from photographs or other art works.[9][10][11][12] At times, Taylor collapses time periods and spaces, as in Cicely and Miles Visit the Obamas (2017): in this work, Cicely Tyson and Miles Davis—painted after a famous photograph of the couple from 1968—are seen in front of the White House, alluding to their imaginary visit to the Obamas.[13] Taylor's painterly style has been variously described as sensuous, vibrant, bold, fast and loose, full of empathy, generosity, and love, and the visual equivalent to blues music, while retaining a profound critical social sensibility.[7][10][11][14] His work has been lauded for maintaining an impossible balance between careful and sophisticated art-world references with a seemingly spontaneous and natural expressiveness.[15] Taylor's oeuvre has been aligned within various American lineages, including the portraiture tradition of Alice Neel, and the work of Harlem Renaissance painters such as Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden, and compared with his peer Kerry James Marshall.[3][11][16]


Taylor's important exhibitions include a mid-career retrospective at MoMA PS1,[12] along with solo exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Artpace, and the Santa Monica Museum of Art, along with group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Hammer Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Rubell Museum, and the Bruce High Quality Foundation.[17][18][19][20][21][22] Taylor is represented by Blum & Poe Gallery in Los Angeles and Feur Mesler gallery in New York.[23][24]


“I paint everyone, or I try to. I try to capture the moment I am with someone who could be my friend, a neighbor, a celebrity, or a homeless person.”[25]

"It takes courage to do a lot of things. But, in a way, it doesn’t actually take courage, because you are free to do it. It’s like jumping in the water. The water’s cold, but you just jump in. You’ve gotta just jump in all the fucking time."[2]


  1. ^ Misheff, Johnny. "Culture – Visiting Artists: Henry Taylor". New York Times Magazine.
  2. ^ a b c Samet, Jennifer (June 27, 2015). "Beer With A Painter, LA Edition: Henry Taylor". Interviews. HyperAllergic. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Henry Taylor at MoMA PS1". Contemporary Art Daily. April 18, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  4. ^ Hobbs, Roberts; Sirmans, Franklin; Wallace, Michelle. "30 Americans: Rubell Family Collection, December 3,2008-May 30, 2009". Missing or empty |url= (help) IBSN: 978-0-9821195-1-8
  5. ^ Hoptman, Laura. "Henry Taylor, Pawel Althamer, and Cathy Wilkes Walk into a Bar…". Inside/Out: Collections and Exhibitions. MOMA. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  6. ^ "Deana Lawson & Henry Taylor". Bomb Magazine, Issue 133. September 15, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Berzon, Stephanie (March 24, 2015). "Henry Taylor Filters Life Through Portraiture". ArtSlant.
  8. ^ "Henry Taylor; January 29–April 9, 2012". MoMA — PS1 Exhibitions/Past.
  9. ^ a b "Artists: Henry Taylor". 2013 Carnegie International. Carnegie Museum of Art.
  10. ^ a b Johnson, Ken (February 22, 2012). "Art eview: A Visual Equivalent of the Blues, in Warm Shades: Henry Taylor's Portraits and Other Paintings at MoMA PS1". The New York Times. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  11. ^ a b c Myers, Holly (March 7, 2013). "Review: Henry Taylor paintings a potent presence at Blum & Poe". The Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ a b Miller, Michael (January 27, 2012). "Henry Taylor Paints a Picture: A Retrospective of the Artist's Work Comes to PS1". Observer.
  13. ^ Paik, Sherry. "Henry Taylor". Ocula.
  14. ^ Griffin, Jonathan. "Henry Taylor: Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, USA". Frieze, Issue 140. Archived from the original on November 26, 2015.
  15. ^ Sharp, Chris. "Scrambling the Codes" (PDF). Blum & Poe PRESS. Art Review. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  16. ^ Smith, Roberta (February 18, 2005). "Art in Review: Henry Taylor". The New York Times. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  17. ^ "30 Americans". Exhibitions. Corcoran Gallery. Archived from the original on 2015-11-23. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  18. ^ "Blues For Smoke: February 27 – April 02, 2013". Exhibitions. Whitney Museum of Art.
  19. ^ "Henry Taylor: Girrrrrl! Sep 13–Dec 13, 2008". Exhibition Archive. Santa Monica Museum of Art.
  20. ^ "Henry Taylor". Artists. Artpace.
  21. ^ "Henry Taylor: Sis and Bra, Apr 11, 2007 - Jul 1, 2007". Past Exhibitions. Studio Museum.
  22. ^ "Room to Live: Recent Acquisitions and Works from the Collection". Exhibitions, October 5, 2013 – March 30, 2014. Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
  23. ^ "Henry Taylor". Artists. Blum & Poe Gallery.
  24. ^ "Henry Taylor". Artists. Feur Mesler Gallery.
  25. ^ "Henry Taylor at Carlos/Ishikawa". Contemporary Art Daily. Retrieved November 25, 2015.