Henry Taylor (b. 1958)
acrylic on canvas
76 ½ x 73 ½in. (194.3 x 186.7cm.)
Painted in 2009
Private Collection, London.
Anon. sale, Christie's London, 1 July 2015, lot 271.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
N. Stillman, "Henry Taylor: Rental" in Artforum, May 2009 (illustrated in colour, p. 240).
New York, Rental, Henry Taylor @ Rental, 2009.

Lot Essay

Dense fields of opaque colour generously fill the towering 65, Henry Taylor’s poignant portrait. A pale, affecting form emerges behind an open door, her face and body almost the same shade of pastel pink. From afar, the figure’s gaze is mesmerising; up close she is agonisingly moving. Painted in 2009, critic Nick Stillman described the work as ‘haunting and memorable’. Referring to 65 specifically, he went on to write, ‘The heaviness of his execution gives these people a melancholy gravitas; whether dealing with Fred Hampton or an anonymous tenement dweller, Taylor’s portraits place them on the same level: frail and human’ (N. Stillman, ‘Henry Taylor: Rental’, Artforum, May 2009, p. 240). Indeed, empathy is omnipresent in Taylor’s paintings, a he turns his gaze to his friends and family, as well as the invalid, the homeless and other, often transient members of his Los Angeles community. He owes his compassionate, inclusive aesthetic to the years he spent working at the Camarillo State Hospital, a job he took to pay for his tuition to CalArts. ‘I learned not to dismiss anybody,’ he has said of this time. ‘It just made me a little more patient, a little more empathetic. It taught me to embrace a lot of things. A lot of people will avoid a person who doesn’t appear normal, but I’m not like that’ (H. Taylor quoted in K. Rosenberg, ‘Henry Taylor on His Profoundly Empathetic Early Portraits of Psychiatric Patients,’, April 2, 2016).

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