Henry Taylor - See Alice Jump


CAPTURING HISTORIC TRACK STAR Alice Coachman in midair, Henry Taylor‘s painting of the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal sold for $149,000 (including fees) yesterday at Christie’s in New York. The price was twice the high estimate and a record at auction for a work by the Los Angeles-based artist, according to Christie’s and Iris Index.

“See Alice Jump” (2011) appeared in Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Afternoon Session on May 11. Exemplifying his penchant for figurative images of relatives, people from his neighborhood, historic figures, and sports heroes, the acrylic on canvas painting depicts Coachman, who won a gold medal in the high jump at the 1948 Olympics in London, wearing a shirt emblazoned with “Tuskegee.”

The painting exemplifies Henry Taylor’s penchant for figurative images of relatives, people from his neighborhood, historic figures, and sports heroes.

Born in Albany, Ga., Coachman was a standout in track and field during high school attracting the attention of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. She competed for the historically black school’s high school and college teams and also for Albany State College (now Albany State University). She won many titles and national championships, eventually earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. In 1948 at the London Games, Coachman made history when she won the gold medal in high jump. Coachman died at age 90 in 2014 in Albany, Ga.

“See Alice Jump” was first displayed in 2011 at Blum & Poe, the Los Angeles gallery that represents Taylor, and was featured in a major solo show at MoMA PS1 in New York. In a review, the New York Times said the 2012 exhibition, “captures an artist of sweeping imagination firing on all cylinders.”

Taylor’s career began relatively late, after he studied art at Oxnard Community College while working at a mental hospital, and later attended the California Institute of the Arts. An exhibition of his earliest paintings and drawings, executed during the 10 years that he worked at the hospital, are on view through today at Henry Taylor’s Los Angeles. “Henry Taylor: Camarillo State Hospital” inaugurates the artist’s unique open-format exhibition space. CT


Update (3/19/17): This article was updated to correct Alice Coachman’s hometown. She was born and died in Albany, Ga., not Albany, N.Y.


TOP IMAGE: HENRY TAYLOR, “See Alice Jump,” 2011 (acrylic on canvas). | Estimate $50,000-$70,000. Sold for $149,000 (including fees).


“Henry Taylor” was published to coincide with the artist’s show at MoMA PS1 in New York. Taylor was in residence at the museum for months preceding the show, creating the paintings that appeared in the exhibitions, portraits of ordinary and extraordinary people. Also consider the children’s book “Queen of the Track: Alice Coachman, Olympic High-Jump Champion.”


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