Henry Taylor - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, November 16, 2016 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Galerie Carlos Cardenas, Paris
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    “One day I thought, I just need to paint someone so I could get some more immediate results and have a sense of accomplishment. I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere in the studio, and when I feel like that, I sometimes just grab people.” –Henry Taylor

    Portraiture is central to Henry Taylor’s prolific practice. His wide range of subjects, including relatives, friends, acquaintances from the street, black athletes, heroes, fallen legends, and iconic victims of racial violence, are embodiments of his personal world and our shared cultural universe. In He’s Hear, and He’s Thair, 2008, Taylor depicts an acquaintance-turned-friend named Emory. Taylor first encountered Emory, homeless and wheel-chair bound, on the streets of Los Angeles where he lives and works. (The time and location of their meeting is documented in the artist’s hand on the verso of the painting.) The two developed a friendship and Taylor became Emory’s caretaker, offering him a room in exchange for his help in the studio. In his portrait, Taylor renders Emory in his characteristic fashion—loosely and roughly in style, representing the harsh life his subject lived, but with great emotion and a conveyed sense of generosity and love.

    Taylor makes no sacred distinctions between iconic historical figures and the person sitting in front of him. All of his subjects are painted into flat, heavily worked energetic backgrounds and, though embedded, appear as if they could jump off the surface. “My paintings are what I see around me…they are my landscape paintings.” (“Henry Taylor,"Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, September 10 – November 5, 2016)

    Taylor’s sitters are often portrayed against solid-colored backgrounds, as well as domestic and outdoor spaces. The psychological and physical implications of space (public vs. private, interior vs. exterior) are important themes in the artist’s body of work. It’s no accident that Taylor chooses to situate his subject outside of a closed door. Lovingly rendered as a glowing, golden deity, Taylor highlights a powerful contrast between the artistic treatment of his subject and the harsh reality of his sitter’s personal situation.

    Henry Taylor’s practice is deeply informed by his surroundings, most notably by people. Some move freely between Taylor’s life and work, often only staying long enough to have their portrait painted once, while others, like Emory, become ingrained in the interwoven fabric of Taylor’s art and life, or, in his own words, “I paint everyone, or I try to. I try to capture the moment I am with someone who could be my friend, a neighbor, a celebrity, or a homeless person.” (“Henry Taylor," Carlos/Ishikawa, London, August 29 – October 26, 2015)


He's Hear, and He's Thair

signed, inscribed and dated "NOV. 29th 2008 4:50 Henry Taylor (me) Emory met on the street in front of studio. Did time at CMC where..." on the reverse
acrylic and collage on canvas
73 x 50 1/2 in. (185.4 x 128.3 cm.)
Executed in 2008.

$40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for $60,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 16 November 5 PM EST