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Past Exhibitions


Three images of "X-ray" artworks by Al Taylor.

Al Taylor, What Are You Looking At?

November 17, 2017–March 18, 2018

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.

Photo of Al Taylor artworks installed at the High Museum.

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. 

Photo of Al Taylor artworks installed at the High Museum.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.

Photo of Al Taylor artworks installed at the High Museum.

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.

Click on an image below to learn more.

“What I do is I measure things.” – Al Taylor

About Al Taylor

Photo of the artist Al Taylor

Born in Springfield, Missouri, Taylor studied painting at the Kansas City Art Institute before moving to New York in 1970, where he lived and worked the rest of his life. As a young artist, Taylor developed his approach to painting while holding a number of jobs, including an assistantship to the influential American artist Robert Rauschenberg. Rauschenberg’s medium-bending experimentation influenced Taylor, who in his work probed the limits between two- and three-dimensional artwork. In 1985 Taylor stopped painting and began to focus on the complexity of space by making sculptural objects that allowed him to look “into and through things.” He sometimes called his sculpture “drawing instruments” as they prompted a give-and-take between drawing and sculpture in his practice.

Throughout his career, Taylor’s curiosity was piqued by his travels and exposures to different cultures. A 1980 trip to Uganda, Kenya, and Senegal in 1980 introduced to him the notion of time’s multidimensionality—non-linear time stretched or truncated according to the past, present and future events that define it. The notion of time as a subjective, rather than objective, force was revelatory to the artist. Following trips to Hawaii in 1987 and 1988, Taylor incorporated motifs into his work—such as the everyday and overlooked subjects of his Ten Common (Hawaiian Household) Objects—that reflected a counter to the prevailing paradisiacal view of Hawaii.

Organization and Support

Al Taylor, What Are You Looking At? is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. Support for this exhibition is provided by

logo for the Andy Warhol Foundation
Logo for the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Logo for the NEA

Generous support also provided by Sarah Eby-Ebersole and W. Daniel Ebersole.

This exhibition is made possible by

Premier Exhibition Series Partner

Exhibition Series Sponsors

Premier Exhibition Series Supporters
Anne Cox Chambers Foundation, The Antinori Foundation, Ann and Tom Cousins, Sarah and Jim Kennedy, Jane and Hicks Lanier, Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot

Contributing Exhibition Series Supporters
Barbara and Ron Balser, Corporate Environments, Peggy Foreman, James F. Kelly Charitable Trust, Jane Smith Turner Foundation, The Lubo Fund, Margot and Danny McCaul, Joyce and Henry Schwob

Generous support is also provided by
Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund, Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund, Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, Howell Exhibition Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund