Al Taylor: Paris Piss and Ave. Junot
In the fall of 1990, while staying at a friend’s Paris apartment on avenue Junot in Montmartre, Al Taylor chanced upon an observation that would inspire the creation of a wide-ranging body of works on paper as well as sculpture that continued to evolve through 1992. Gazing at the street from a corner balcony window, the artist was fascinated by the fluid trails of Parisian dog pee that flowed down the inclined sidewalk below.
In a series of small ink and gouache drawings made in Paris and aptly titled the Paris Piss group, Taylor playfully tracked the course these flows would take and the puddles and rivulets that were formed by gravity during their travel. Many of the drawings were made by tilting the sheet of paper to move the ink while sometimes also using a brush to spread the medium in varying opacities that appear as “shadows” of the puddles themselves. While Taylor’s stain drawings have prompted comparisons to Jackson Pollock’s abstract expressionist drips, these works—which explore the tensions between meaning and chance, and language and vision—are perhaps more closely aligned with art historical precedents including Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912; Philadelphia Museum of Art), Francis Picabia’s La Sainte Vierge (1920; Musee national d’art, Centre Pompidou, Paris), and the poetic painting found in calligraphy scrolls.
When Taylor returned to his New York studio after his trip to Paris, he created a correlated body of larger drawings—collectively titled Ave. Junot—in which the imagery starkly emphasizes the elegant curve of the street that climbs the hill of Montmartre.
Image: Al Taylor, Untitled (Paris Piss Stain #4), 1990