Henry Taylor - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Wednesday, November 15, 2023 | Phillips

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  • “Taylor…borrows some of Barkley L. Hendricks’s graphic flair and advertorial slickness for his portrait of the ice-cool drummer/rapper—and his fellow Oxnard native—Anderson .Paak.”
    —Zadie Smith
    At 65 years old, Henry Taylor’s rise has just begun in earnest. The subject of a current retrospective, B Side, at the Whitney Museum of American Art through January 2024 and organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Taylor is known for his bold color palettes and brushy approach in his portraits of friends, family, celebrities and strangers. In PAAK, 2017, Taylor portrays rapper, singer-songwriter, and music producer Anderson .Paak—a fellow native of Oxnard, California. 


    Their roots in Oxnard remain important to both Taylor and Paak—Paak even named his third studio album after the Southern California city. It was in Oxnard where they both began to traverse into their respective arts scenes whilst navigating complex upbringings. Today, they are both renowned Black creatives who have achieved substantial levels of recognition. Taylor painted PAAK the year the rapper was nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammys in 2017. In the present example, Taylor pays homage to not just another “Oxnardian,” but to a Black artist at the pinnacle of his career, commemorating his achievement through this sincere portrait.

    “I wish sometimes you could hear things in my paintings.”
    —Henry Taylor

    Set against a Venetian red background, Paak is depicted adorned with sunglasses, a nose ring and a black necklace. Taylor renders his protagonist in deep browns and ochres with the red of the background reflecting off his skin. The “graphic flair” of the present example has evoked comparison by none other than Zadie Smith to the portraits of Barkley L. Hendricks.i Paak looks downward towards his audio mixing console, fully in tune with the moment. The unadorned background is juxtaposed with the suggestion of music—music which the viewer can almost hear themselves. 


    Painted against a non-specific backdrop, .Paak seems to be performing in a world of his own, for no audience but himself and the viewer. If PAAK could be heard, perhaps one would hear the “bubbling bass, silky textures, and sunset timbres” that .Paak’s 2018 album Oxnard was celebrated for.ii At the same time, Taylor’s portraits seem to intentionally leave space for the viewer to imagine a soundtrack of their own. In his nuanced depiction Paak, approached from a position of admiration and personal connection, Taylor allows for sound, lyrics, and melodies to arise at will.



    i Zadie Smith, “Henry Taylor’s Promiscuous Painting,” The New Yorker, July 23, 2018, online.

    ii Torii MacAdams, “’Oxnard,’ Anderson. Paak,” Pitchfork, November 16, 2018, online.

    • Provenance

      Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      Henry Taylor: The Only Portrait I Ever Painted of My Momma Was Stolen, New York and Los Angeles, 2018, pp. 225, 315 (illustrated, p. 225)
      Zadie Smith, "Henry Taylor's Promiscuous Painting," The New Yorker, July 23, 2018, online



signed, titled, inscribed and dated "Henry Taylor December 2017 Anderson Paak OXNARD" on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
40 x 30 in. (101.6 x 76.2 cm)
Painted in 2017.

Full Cataloguing

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $177,800

Contact Specialist

Patrizia Koenig 
Specialist, Head of Sale, Afternoon Session
+1 212 940 1279 

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 15 November 2023