henry taylor - chocolate lover

IN AN ERA WHEN COUNTLESS ARTISTS are creating untitled abstract and conceptual work, there is a certain satisfaction in viewing paintings by artists who not only remain fixated on figures, but also relish the art of naming their canvases.

Henry Taylor‘s title choices are often as blunt, cheeky and colorful as his images. “Walking with Vito” (2008), for example, captures two young men walking down a city sidewalk with a visually striking yet sufficiently intimidating mastiff. In “Chocolate Lover” (2006), a middle-aged man whose waistline has gotten away from him, sits at a table before a piece of pie, clutching a bag of chips while talking on his cell phone. It’s unclear whether the chocolate in the clever title references his skin color and amorous personality or preference for the sweet given his other culinary indulgences.

In 2011, “Chocolate Lover” sold at a Phillips London auction for 22,500 euros (currently about $25,550), exponentially more than its estimate of 3,000-5,000 euros.

Recognizing his unique perspective and dedication to his subjects, Sotheby’s London is featuring “Chocolate Lover” among five works by Taylor in a new selling auction of non-photorealistic paintings. “Paint Your Own Backyard” (June 11 – July 24, 2015) includes 19 lots by Alice Neel, David Hockney, Alex Katz, Jonas Wood and Taylor.

Classically trained, these artists approach their subjects from new and fresh angles, consistently pushing the boundaries of painting from life.
— Sotheby’s

henry taylor - walking with vito
Lot 4: HENRY TAYLOR, “Walking with Vito,” 2008 (acrylic and mixed media on canvas).


Born in Oxnard, Calif. in 1958, the youngest of eight siblings, Taylor lives and works in downtown Los Angeles. He drew and painted when he was young, but it was only after a decade of working as a psychiatric technician at Camarillo State Hospital that he decided to pursue a career in painting. He enrolled at the California Institute of the Arts and graduated in 1995 when he was in his late 30s.

Taylor’s work was featured in solo exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2007), Santa Monica Museum of Art (2008) and MoMA PS1 (2012). Represented by Blum & Poe, his first exhibition with the gallery was in Los Angeles in spring 2011, shortly before “Chocolate Lover” was sold at a premium at Phillips. A two-part solo exhibition of his work, presented in conjunction with UNTITLED, was on view at Blum & Poe in New York earlier this year, through April 4, 2015.

According to the catalog for the Sotheby’s selling exhibition, Taylor’s paintings “invite the outside world into his very personal sphere. Using everyone and everything around him as a source of inspiration for his art, Taylor’s portraits present a diverse cast of characters ranging from sports heroes to people from his downtown LA neighbourhood, addressing community in its most expansive sense.”

His work offers “authentic, multilayered insights into the human condition.” Describing his brush strokes as strong and fluid, Sotheby’s notes that Taylor’s visual documentation, the manner in which he captures his subjects, in many ways is a reflection of his own identity.

While the exhibition includes a couple of untitled paintings by Taylor, a 2010 acrylic on canvas called “My Brother Gene the Former ‘Tunnel Rat'” is also among the selection. CT


TOP IMAGE: Lot 7: HENRY TAYLOR, “Chocolate Lover,” 2006 (graphite, acrylic and mixed media on canvas).


henry taylor - untitled - sitting under cross
Lot 13: HENRY TAYLOR, “Untitled,” 2001 (oil on board).


henry taylor - untitled - john the baptist
Lot 14: HENRY TAYLOR, “Untitled,” 2006 (oil on wood).


henry taylor - my brother gene...
Lot 18: HENRY TAYLOR, “My Brother Gene the Former ‘Tunnel Rat’,” 2010 (acrylic on canvas).


henry taylor - my brother gene (reverse)
Lot 18: The reverse side of HENRY TAYLOR, “My Brother Gene the Former ‘Tunnel Rat’,” 2010 (acrylic on canvas).


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