Although he began his studio practice as a painter, in 1985, Al Taylor (1948-1999) devised a unique and innovative approach to process and materials that encompassed two-dimensional works on paper and three-dimensional objects. Moving fluidly between media, he sought to expand the possibilities of vision by exploring new ways of experiencing and imagining space. His sculptures, which he thought of as "tools for vision," were usually fashioned out of unconventional materials, often employing humble and sometimes humorous elements. As he later wrote, though he moved away from painting in a traditional sense, the perspectival effects made possible by the medium continued to inform his practice: "This work isn’t at all about sculptural concerns; it comes from a flatter set of traditions. What I am really after is finding a way to make a group of drawings that you can look around. Like a pool player, I want to have all the angles covered."1
Taylor was born in Springfield, Missouri, and received a B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1970. He moved to New York later that year, where he would continue to live and work until his death, in 1999. His first solo exhibition took place in 1986 at the Alfred Kren Gallery in New York. His work would go on to be shown in numerous exhibitions in America and Europe, including solo exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Bern (1992) and the Kunstmuseum Luzern (1999), both in Switzerland.
A retrospective of Taylor’s drawings was organized posthumously by the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung at the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich in 2006. A retrospective of the artist’s prints opened at the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich in September 2010, and traveled to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark, in Spring 2011. The Santa Monica Museum of Art, California, presented a focused overview of two bodies of work by the artist, Wire Instruments and Pet Stain Removal Devices, in 2011. In 2013, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta mounted the exhibition Drawing Instruments: Al Taylor's Bat Parts and End Cuts. In 2014, The Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, presented Six Panels: Al Taylor, curated by Robert Storr. A major survey of the artist's work was presented at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta in 2017-2018. The Drawings of Al Taylor was on view at The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, in 2020.
Work by the artist is represented in a number of prominent public collections, including the British Museum, London; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Morgan Library & Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.
The Estate of Al Taylor has been represented by David Zwirner since 2007. Al Taylor: A / LOW / HA, The Hawaiian Works, which was on view in 2020, marked the seventh solo exhibition of the artist’s work, following on: Al Taylor: Early Work (2008); Al Taylor: Rim Jobs and Sideffects (2010); Al Taylor: Pass the Peas and Can Studys (2012); Al Taylor (2014) at our Mayfair, London space; Al Taylor: Pet Stains, Puddles, and Full Gospel Neckless (2015); and Al Taylor: Early Paintings (2017).
1Al Taylor, unpublished artist's statement, July 1990.