February 21–May 24, 2020
Infused with great curiosity and a unique sense of humor, Al Taylor’s compositions combine technical skill and Old Master virtuosity. Taylor's works were inspired by everyday objects and situations—as the press release for the upcoming exhibition of his drawings at The Morgan Library & Museum notes, “he drew maps of pet stains, imagined puddles hanging out to dry, and created elegant still-lifes out of assemblages of tin cans balanced on wires.” Curated by Isabelle Dervaux, this show marks the first solo museum exhibition of the Taylor's work in New York, and will be accompanied by a catalogue bringing to light new research based on the drawings, sketchbooks, and abundant documentation in the artist’s estate. A related program of talks and discussions will also take place at the museum.
Taylor’s drawings show how the artist sought to expand the possibilities of vision by creating new ways of experiencing and imagining space, giving insight into his thinking. As Nathaniel Lee writes in Artforum: “Any attempt at a genuine characterization of the artist’s endeavors must recognize the holistic importance seeing had in his cognitive schema. Taylor was unremittingly preoccupied with the syntactical edifice supporting the centuries-old notion of communicable retinal perception. Drawing provided a realm where Taylor could not only articulate but also manipulate that syntax to yield new forms and new realities.”
Concurrent with the show at The Morgan Library & Museum, David Zwirner will present Al Taylor: A / LOW / HA, The Hawaiian Works. Opening on March 5 and featuring sculptures, drawings, and prints, the exhibition will reflect Taylor’s fascination with Hawaii.
Al Taylor, What Are You Looking At? was the first major museum survey of Al Taylor's work in the United States. The exhibition included more than 150 sculptures, drawings, and prints spanning nearly two decades of the artist's career from 1981 until his death in 1999.
The exhibition was curated by Michael Rooks, curator of modern and contemporary art at High Museum of Art, who began working on the show in 1998. The accompanying publication features texts by Michael Rooks, Lawrence Rinder, Allegra Pesenti, and Robert Storr.
"Taylor grappled with and expanded the lineage of modernist experimentation," Rebecca Brantley writes in a review of the exhibition for Burnaway magazine, "This exhibition reminds us of the continuation of a transgressive strain of early 20th century artists. Yet, more importantly, this exhibition gives deep insight into the practice of a unique and thoughtful artist who still invites the question that Taylor suggested for his gravestone and that inspired Rook’s title: 'What are you looking at?'"
Saturday, March 3, 2018, 2–3 PM
High Museum of Art, Atlanta
Michael Semff, German art historian and former director of the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung in Munich, gave a talk focusing on significant examples of the different media in which Taylor worked—from painting and sculpture to drawing and print. Semff explored the artist’s strategies of perception and objectification, as well as his radical infringement on the traditional rules of art making.
Images: Installation view, Al Taylor, What Are You Looking At?, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, 2017