Henry Taylor, the democratic king of portraiture, makes his L.A. homecoming at MOCA’s Pacific Asia Museum on February 15.
The first time I saw King Henry Taylor was in 1994, at the very first Los Angeles MOCA exhibition, “The Art of L.A.” For three days, Taylor was on display along with more than 10,000 other works by around 800 American artists, many of whom had never set foot in Los Angeles before. The exhibition was held at the first Los Angeles County Museum of Art: the museum was in its third location since its opening in 1892.
Over the last several years, Taylor has been on show in a series of MOCA exhibitions, and he has recently been on the move, with a new studio space in East L.A., and his first solo show at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which will run through April. What’s more, Taylor is back at LACMA this week, as part of a new exhibit called “Vanity Fair: King Henry Taylor and the LACMA Collection.”
The show, which has just been announced, features the most significant Taylor collection ever assembled by the museum, which has been collecting and conserving his work since the 1930s. In addition, in collaboration with the UCLA art museum, and with help from the University of Pennsylvania art department, which Taylor taught in the early 1900s, along with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LACMA has brought his work up to date — in a museum setting — as the curator of the “King of Portraiture” exhibit.
In addition to the extensive collection of Taylor’s works, LACMA also will be adding an important new contribution: a large collection of Taylor’s etchings and photographic prints of L.A. buildings, buildings in L.A. in general, and buildings in Southern California.
Taylor is one of those “museum men” who have never set foot in a museum before, but,