Henry Taylor’s imprint on the American cultural landscape comes from his disruption of tradition. While people figure prominently in Taylor’s work, he rejects the label of portraitist. Taylor’s chosen subjects are only one piece of the larger cultural narrative that they represent: his paintings reveal the forces at play, both individualistic and societal, that come to bear on his subject. The end result is not a mere idealized image, but a complete narrative of a person and his history. Taylor explains this pursuit of representational truth: ‘It’s about respect, because I respect these people. It’s a two-dimensional surface, but they are really three-dimensional beings.
“I would much rather paint somebody from life, seeing the light hit them, as opposed to looking at a photograph. There’s so many nuances when you sit somebody in front of you. You might think a Caucasian is white, but look at how van Gogh painted.”Henry Taylor