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The official catalog accompanying the major retrospective at MoCA LA: Henry Taylor creates a grand pageant of contemporary Black life in America
Surveying 30 years of Henry Taylor’s work in painting, sculpture and installation, this comprehensive monograph celebrates a Los Angeles artist widely appreciated for his unique aesthetic, social vision and freewheeling experimentation. Taylor’s portraits and allegorical tableaux—populated by friends, family members, strangers on the street, athletic stars and entertainers—display flashes of familiarity in their seemingly brash compositions, which nonetheless linger in the imagination with uncanny detail. In his paintings on cigarette packs, cereal boxes and other found supports, Taylor brings his primary medium into the realm of common culture.
Similarly, the artist’s installations often recode the forms and symbolisms of found materials (bleach bottles, push brooms) to play upon art historical tropes and modernism’s appropriations of African or African American culture. Taken together, the various strands of Taylor’s practice display a deep observation of Black life in America at the turn of the century, while also inviting a humanist fellowship that pushes outward from the particular.
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