Henry Taylor


14 October 2023 – 7 January 2024


Hauser & Wirth’s inaugural exhibition in Paris debuts new works by critically acclaimed Los Angeles artist Henry Taylor. Taylor’s exhibition in Paris, the artist’s first prominent show in France, comprises a wide range of over 30 paintings, sculptures and works on paper that encompass the remarkable breadth of his practice

Explore the exhibition

Throughout his four-decade long career, Taylor has consistently and simultaneously embraced and rejected the tenets of traditional painting, as well as any formal label. Combining figurative, landscape and history painting, alongside drawing, installation and sculpture, Taylor’s vast body of highly personal work is rooted in the people and communities closest to him, often manifested together with poignant historical or pop-culture references. In this exhibition, with a guiding sense of human connection, Taylor leads us through a multifaceted narrative.

In the lead up to this show, Taylor extended his studio practice to Paris for a residency in the city during the months of June and July 2023. During this time, Taylor has drawn inspiration from the unparalleled array of historical art collections contained in the city, such as the Musée d’Orsay where he was surrounded by the work of French impressionists, expressionists and fauvists who have inspired him since an early age. Taylor’s studied awareness of his art historical predecessors and and contemporaries is continually prevalent throughout his work, having gained influence from Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Phyllida Barlow, Philip Guston, Gerhard Richter, David Hammons and Glenn Ligon, among others.

Sculpture plays an important role in this exhibition and as part of Taylor’s practice. The process involves energetically building, stacking and affixing a vast array of collected objects together, from bottle caps to toilet paper rolls, to create a holistic record of his everyday routine and the materials that define them. Referring to this highly intuitive process as ‘hunting and gathering,’ the artist is able to simultaneously merge multiple references—historic and contemporary—into sharp focus.

Examples featured in the Paris show include assemblages made using detergent and milk bottles, toilet paper rolls, furniture, among other objects, which recode the forms and symbolisms of found materials to comment on enduring art historical tropes, echoing an almost Duchamp-esque approach to readymade sculpture. When paired with Taylor’s paintings depicting various figures throughout history, these works reveal the artist’s voracious sourcing of subjects and materials, as well as his encyclopaedic command of historical knowledge. Also on view in the exhibition is a monumental sculpture entitled ‘One tree per family’ (2023), a towering 15ft tree trunk with a large afro for foliage.

Taylor’s work is primarily about relationships and how they impact our lives. While people figure prominently in his work, the artist rejects the label of portraitist. The paintings in this exhibition include subjects from all walks of life and historical context, frequently featuring family members, as seen in ‘I got brothers ALL OVA the world but they forget we’re related’ (2023), a depiction of Taylor’s brothers and friends painted against a graphic backdrop displaying the word ‘VICTORY,’ resembling the logo of the classic American bubble gum brand. Taylor is known for his playful visual and verbal punning, as symbols slip between different representations in his work: the allusion to bubblegum is a nod to the subjects’ youth, while also celebrating their graduation day.

Additional works made during Taylor’s time in Paris include an homage to Josephine Baker, the American-born French dancer, singer, actress and civil rights activist painted in a kneeling pose foregrounding the Louvre and the British Museum, alongside a melancholy depiction of the artist on his birthday in his Paris studio alongside a painting of his daughter and the Tahitian slang phrase ‘no atou.’

Taylor’s choice of subject—from memory and archival materials to the live sitter—is firmly dependent upon his sense of connection driven by empathy. His sumptuous depictions, painted rapidly and loosely, capture his subject’s nuances and mood with gestures and passages of flat, saturated acrylic colour offset by areas of rich and intricate detail. The intensity with which he paints is reflected by his brushwork: a network of kinetic strokes that seek to capture a feeling before it flees. Taylor’s subjects, which range from members of his community to symbolic objects representative of historical struggle, span the breadth of the human condition; each work is a holistic visual biography and permanent record of a person or people’s history.

Henry Taylor: B Side

Spanning painting, drawing, installation and sculpture, the artist’s major career survey ‘Henry Taylor: B Side’ is on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art through 7 January 2024.

Image: Henry Taylor, i’m yours (detail) © Henry Taylor. Photo: Sam Kahn

On view in Paris

During the week of Paris+ par Art Basel, the gallery is open Monday – Sunday, 9 am – 6 pm. Please visit our location page to plan your visit.

Sobre el artista

Henry Taylor

Henry Taylor’s imprint on the American cultural landscape comes from his disruption of tradition. While people figure prominently in Taylor’s work, he rejects the label of portraitist. Taylor’s chosen subjects are only one piece of the larger cultural narrative that they represent: his paintings reveal the forces at play, both...

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