Henry Taylor (B. 1958)
Henry Taylor (B. 1958)

"The Young, the Brave, Bobby Hutton" R.I.P. Oakland, California

Details
Henry Taylor (B. 1958)
"The Young, the Brave, Bobby Hutton" R.I.P. Oakland, California
signed and dated 'SEPT 07 Henry Taylor LA. 6.26.08' (on the overlap);
inscribed '22 Sept. 2007 Today I'm cooking Texas collard greens and peach cobbler + pot roast for my mama' (lower left)
acrylic, charcoal and graphite on canvas
90 ¼ x 67 1/8in. (229.2 x 170.4cm.)
Executed in 2007
Provenance
Sister Gallery, Los Angeles.
Acquired from the above in 2008.
Exhibited
Los Angeles, Institute of Contemporary Art, She Mixed, 2008.
London, Saatchi Gallery, Body Language, 2013-2014 (illustrated in colour, p. 94).

Lot Essay

Henry Taylor is perhaps best known for his voracious appetite for portrait painting. He paints anyone and everyone – be they gallerists exhibiting his work or drug addicts he meets in the street – in the humanistic, empathetic style he has made his own. In ‘The Young, the Brave, Bobby Hutton’ R.I.P. Oakland, California, however, his trademark use of consistent blocks of colour, spirited impasto and responsive outsider-art style figuration are used to political-historical ends, depicting the Black Panther Bobby Hutton, killed by police at the age of seventeen in 1968. Working from an iconic picture of Hutton standing outside Oakland Police Station clutching a shotgun, Taylor vividly captures the tension and pride in the young man’s pose – but while the painting is sensitive to the human reality of its subject, it also meditates on Hutton’s symbolic quality. His facial features left blank, Taylor instead identifies him by his jacket, rendered in thick golden brushstrokes that stand out against the dull grey of the wall behind him; a large outline of the letter B surrounds the figure like an emblem. Several fading words and forms, including an American flag, are also scrawled across the wall. For the most part they remain difficult to make out: a confusing array of indecipherable shapes that reflect the difficulty of establishing what Hutton’s tragic death continues to represent in American history.
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