‘I buy from the heart and using my own eyes’: Everette Taylor on trusting his tastes and instincts

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Everette Taylor—the chief executive of fundraising platform Kickstarter and, previously, the chief marketing officer at online art marketplace Artsy—found his way to collecting almost by chance six years ago. Since then, he has built an exceptional personal collection (catalogued on Instagram, @thetaylorcollection) that features many paintings, sculptures and mixed-media works by Black artists—including Amoako Boafo, Lina Iris Viktor, Rick Lowe, Jadé Fadojutimi and Derrick Adams—and also reflects a growing interest in art from Southeast Asia.

Taylor has taken an active role in non-profits on both sides of the Atlantic, serving on the Chisenhale Council at London’s Chisenhale Gallery and on the board of advisers for Art at a Time Like This, an organisation that stages public projects in response to pressing issues like climate change and the war in Ukraine. Taylor continues to gravitate towards art that immediately strikes a chord—and for which he has wall space.

The Art Newspaper: What was the first work you ever bought?
Everette Taylor:
The first work I ever “bought” was in a raffle, which kickstarted my art-buying journey. I was keynoting an event in Boston in spring of 2017, and they had an Afro-Latino artist by the name of Jon Hen displaying his work at the event and raffling one of his works. By some insane chance, I won the raffle and a work by the artist titled The Red Whisperer. Once I brought the work home, I realised for the first time how barren my walls were, and I remembered another work I saw by the artist at the event, titled 9 to 5, which I bought directly from the artist. After that, I was hooked.

How quickly do you decide to buy a work?
Ninety-five percent of the time, I decide instantly. If I love a work, I love a work. I don’t care about an artist’s market or what other people may think. I buy from the heart and using my own eyes. The other 5% is because of the price, timing, whether I have a space for it in my home (I want to live with my art) or if it’s the right work for me.

What was the most recent work you bought?
I most recently bought a work by Iranian American artist Aryana Minai, who makes incredible paper-based sculptures and wall works. The work is called Life Forms IV, which I acquired via the group show Memory Garden at Swivel Gallery in Brooklyn, curated by Sadaf Padder. I’m also currently in the process of acquiring a work by one of my favourite human beings, Mickalene Thomas, who just happens to be one of the best artists ever.

What work do you regret not buying when you had the chance?
I don’t have a ton of regrets. I buy what I love, and I only buy what I have the financial means to acquire. A lot of times, people’s regrets are tied to financial reasons because their market explodes, not because it was something they actually loved. There is, however, one artist who stands out I did unfortunately pass on that I’m still regretting to this day. That artist is Stanley Whitney. I passed on a smaller work on canvas that I found on Artsy, and I passed not because I didn’t love it, but because I wanted to get a larger work. Hindsight is 20/20. I should’ve grabbed a work by one of my favourite artists when I had the chance.

If you could have any work from any museum in the world, what would it be?
My GOAT [greatest of all time], David Hammons, and my favourite work of his that’s currently in a museum collection is Injustice Case (1970). The work is part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s permanent collection and was included in the famous Soul of a Nation exhibition co-curated by one of my good friends, Zoe Whitley. It’s from his famous Body Prints series, collaged with the American flag, and shows Bobby Seale bound to his chair and gagged in front of the jury overseeing his trial, which was ordered by the judge himself. It represents what many Black men feel socially in this country, and I believe it’s one of the bravest and most significant artworks ever created.

What’s your least favourite thing about art fairs?
Social exhaustion. I love art, and it’s amazing seeing my friends. Art fairs feel like one big family reunion, but I’m completely taxed after a day at the fair. Sometimes it can be hard to take time to see all the art because of all the socialising happening, and sometimes that time it takes for you to socialise can mean missing out on a work you really wanted because you were too late getting to it.

What’s your go-to place for a drink, meal, snack or just to recharge during a busy week of art fairs in New York?
To be honest, my home. My home is my sanctuary after a busy week of art fairs, but if I had to choose one other place, it would probably be Zero Bond, but only during the day. The evenings can get hectic during Armory Week, which coincides with Fashion Week.

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