In Pictures: A Henry Taylor Retrospective at MOCA Spotlights the Artist’s Individual Yet Universal Portraiture

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In just about every article, interview, or press release written about Henry Taylor, he is described as “an artist’s artist.” No matter what that term actually means, it’s undoubtedly a compliment, but it cuts out the non-artist’s ability to appreciate and respect the man’s great talent.

If anything, Taylor is an artist of the people. He paints, sculpts, and draws them furiously, as evidenced by the extraordinary breadth of work on view in the career retrospective “Henry Taylor: B Side” on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art in the artist’s hometown of Los Angeles.

As a chronicler of people from every cross-section of humanity, Taylor’s subjects range from family members, to fellow artists, to the patients at the Camarillo State Mental Hospital where he worked decades ago. In all of his works, there is something both universal and achingly individual, with many of his paintings serving as character studies spliced with social commentary.

In the exhibition catalogue, curator Bennett Simpson writes of Taylor: “He is also, or maybe foremost, a champion and caretaker of Black experience, suffusing his work with recognition and social commentary alike. In this role, his paintings communicate a deep sense of responsibility—to memory and community, to excellence and contingency.”

See pictures from the exhibition below.

“Henry Taylor: B Side” is on view at MOCA Grand Avenue, 250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, through April 30, 2023. 

Installation view, "Henry Taylor: B Side" at MOCA Grand Avenue. Courtesy o the Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Jeff McLane.

Installation view, “Henry Taylor: B Side” at MOCA Grand Avenue. Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Jeff McLane.

Henry Taylor, Screaming Head (1999). mage and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Jeff McLane.

Henry Taylor, Screaming Head (1999). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Jeff McLane.

Henry Taylor, Untitled (2022). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Jeff McLane.

Henry Taylor, Untitled (2022). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Jeff McLane.

Henry Taylor, Too Sweet (2016). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Sam Kahn.

Henry Taylor, Too Sweet (2016). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Sam Kahn.

Henry Taylor, Untitled (2021). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Ken Adlard.

Henry Taylor, Untitled (2021). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Ken Adlard.

Installation view, "Henry Taylor: B Side" at MOCA Grand Avenue. Courtesy o the Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Jeff McLane.

Installation view, “Henry Taylor: B Side” at MOCA Grand Avenue. Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Jeff McLane.

Installation view, "Henry Taylor: B Side" at MOCA Grand Avenue. Courtesy o the Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Jeff McLane.

Installation view, “Henry Taylor: B Side” at MOCA Grand Avenue. Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Jeff McLane.

Henry Taylor, Andrea Bowers (2010). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Robert Bean.

Henry Taylor, Andrea Bowers (2010). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Robert Bean.

Installation view, "Henry Taylor: B Side" at MOCA Grand Avenue. Courtesy o the Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Jeff McLane.

Installation view, “Henry Taylor: B Side” at MOCA Grand Avenue. Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Jeff McLane.

Installation view, “Henry Taylor: B Side” at MOCA Grand Avenue. Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Jeff McLane.

Henry Taylor, I Was King, When I Met The Queen – Syllable X’s Rhythm Equals Mumbo Jumbo (2013). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Sam Kahn.

Henry Taylor, I Was King, When I Met The Queen – Syllable X’s Rhythm Equals Mumbo Jumbo (2013). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Sam Kahn.

Henry Taylor, "Watch your back" (2013). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Sam Kahn.

Henry Taylor, “Watch your back” (2013). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Sam Kahn.

Installation view, "Henry Taylor: B Side" at MOCA Grand Avenue. Courtesy o the Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Jeff McLane.

Installation view, “Henry Taylor: B Side” at MOCA Grand Avenue. Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Jeff McLane.

Henry Taylor, Untitled (1991). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Jeff McLane.

Henry Taylor, Untitled (1991). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Jeff McLane.

Henry Taylor, Gettin it Done (2016). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

Henry Taylor, Gettin it Done (2016). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

Henry Taylor, Cora (cornbread) (2008). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

Henry Taylor, Cora (cornbread) (2008). Image and work ©Henry Taylor, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

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