Sotheby’s New York Contemporary Art Day Auction, May 19, 2017 – Lot 416: HENRY TAYLOR, “Miss Kelley,” 2010 (acrylic on canvas). | Estimate $50,000-$70,000. Sold for $231,250 (including fees)
THIS MONTH, FOUR PAINTINGS by Henry Taylor were auctioned at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in New York. As recognition of Taylor increases—his work is displayed prominently at the 2017 Whitney Biennial; a self-portrait of the artist is installed on a High Line billboard; and his work is featured on a recent cover of Art in America magazine—more paintings by the artist are being consigned for sale.
In March, the Los Angeles-based artist achieved two record sales. The May results were more moderate. Two of the paintings far exceeded expectations, selling for more than three times their high estimates. But neither surpassed Taylor’s high mark set by “‘The Young, the Brave, Bobby Hutton’ R.I.P. Oakland, California.” Depicting a 17-year-old Black Panther murdered by Oakland police, the 2007 painting sold for $235,000 (including fees) at Christie’s New York on March 22, an artist record.
“Miss Kelley,” a 2010 portrait of a blonde woman on a brown couch, veered close to Taylor’s record, yielding $231,250 (including fees) on May 19 at Sotheby’s New York. In both “Miss Kelley” and “What Can I Say?” Taylor captures his subjects on sofas. He presented a series of such paintings in “Henry Taylor: Couch Paintings,” an exhibition at WPA gallery in Los Angeles (Sept. 30-Oct. 30, 2010). In describing the works, WPA noted:
“The couch is the most comfortable seat in Henry Taylor’s home. His new exhibition, ‘The Couch Paintings,’ is a collection of recent acrylic on canvas portraits unified by the common theme of Taylor’s couch. It is no coincidence that he has merged his working and living space. As Taylor states, ‘My home is my studio and my studio, of course is my home. Most of the time I’m alone there working and sometimes I receive visitors and these visitors become subjects.’ This body of work continues Taylor’s commitment to community as subject matter. Taylor’s lifeblood is his community. Home, neighborhood, storytelling, memorialization are paramount to him. The checkout person at the local market, friends, family, artists, homeless people, and even an art curator are subjects in this new body of work. Taylor treats them all equally and refuses hierarchical structures that others accept or impose.” CT
“Henry Taylor” was published to coincide with the artist’s show at MoMA PS1 in New York. Taylor was in residence at the museum for months preceding the show, creating the paintings that appeared in the exhibitions, portraits of ordinary and extraordinary people.
Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Afternoon Session, May 18, 2017 – Lot 781: HENRY TAYLOR, “What Can I Say?” 2011 (acrylic on canvas). | Estimate $40,000-$60,000. Sold for $193,500 (including fees)
Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Afternoon Session, May 18, 2017 – Lot 863: HENRY TAYLOR, “99,” 2012 (acrylic, ink, printed paper, printed cardboard and newsprint collage on canvas). | Estimate $30,000-$60,000. Sold for $47,500 (including fees)
Sotheby’s New York Contemporary Art Day Auction, May 19, 2017 – Lot 403: HENRY TAYLOR, “Better Watch Your Back,” 2005 (acrylic on canvas). | Estimate $25,000-$35,000. Sold for $50,000 (including fees)