The High Museum of Art is organizing the first museum survey in the United States to explore the career of American artist Al Taylor (1948–1999). With more than 150 sculptures, drawings, and prints drawn from several of the artist’s major series over nearly two decades, the exhibition will reveal the crisscrossing avenues of Taylor’s artistic inquiry and his innovative use of unexpected materials.
Although Taylor lived and worked for most of his life in New York City, he established his career in Europe with exhibitions in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. Taylor presented his work in solo gallery exhibitions in the United States during his lifetime; however, his first museum exhibitions in this country were held posthumously.
This exhibition is the first to offer an in-depth look at the breadth of Taylor’s artistic production. It explores the diverse nature and humor of his visual language and the reciprocity in his practice among drawing, sculpture, and printmaking. Taylor drew no hierarchical distinctions among the different media he used. Rather, each facilitated a variety of ways to test his hypotheses about visual perception and to pose the fundamental question “What are you looking at?”
Like many artists of his generation, Taylor often used commonplace objects, such as broomsticks, coffee cans, and hula hoops, to construct his three-dimensional works. He delighted in the deadpan materiality that gave his works form, graphically reproducing such ordinary subjects as kinks of twisted wire or the optical effects of transparent plastic. His art transcends straightforward observation to reveal the world in entirely new ways.
Spanning all three levels of the High’s Renzo Piano–designed Anne Cox Chambers Wing, the exhibition will feature works from Taylor’s series Wheel Studies (1981–1985), Latin Studies (1984–1985), Pet Stains and Puddles (1989–1992), Pass the Peas (1991), X-Ray Tube (1995), Full Gospel Neckless (1997), and Bondage Duck (1998–99), among others.