The West Coast
Armory Week 2012
When my plane broke through the Los Angeles smog on an afternoon in early spring, I imagined I had willed the town into existence by nothing more than my arrival. It’s the city’s foundational myth—perpetually born yesterday. I was there to cover an art fair called Paris Photo, which was being held at that most mythic of L.A. landmarks—Paramount Studios—and to report on the city’s art world. If New York had a say in the matter, it was something of an accident of history that there were ever artists in Los Angeles at all. The dealers and collectors were always in New York. And who could force the entertainment industry to care? For decades, the most noteworthy thing about successful Los Angeles artists—aside from a core group—was that they left for the East Coast.
The reality is more complicated. New York changed. Downtown ceased being a squatter’s free-for-all and became an outdoor shopping center. The S&M clubs and taxi garages of Chelsea gave way to galleries stacked on top of one another. Increasingly, the creatively minded transplants who migrated each day to New York from all over the country came with expiration dates. Ten years would go by, if you were lucky, before the inevitable fatigue set in. So many migrants have gone to California as a solution to some problem that it’s become an American trope. But in a town where the front page of the largest daily newspaper reports the unsubstantiated rumor that industry blogger Nikki Finke would be fired from Deadline Hollywood, the arts have quietly carved out a home. New York just got more and more expensive.
Back in January, The Observer interviewed the artist Henry Taylor. We spoke for a long time in the apartment that he was staying at in Queens. Then we went to the Spanish restaurant next door to his building. We were the only people in the restaurant, besides a family finishing a large meal. The matriarch had a diabetic seizure and was taken away unconscious in an ambulance. Then, Mr. Taylor took The Observer back to his apartment, and painted our portrait. That portrait is now hanging at the booth of Blum & Poe, Mr. Taylor’s Los Angeles dealer, at the ADAA Art Show. It is called I Smoke, I Drink, But Mostly I Write.
This week, we profiled the Los Angeles-based artist Henry Taylor, whose mid-career retrospective opens at MoMA PS1 on Jan. 29. Here’s a look at some of his work to wet your appetite. All images courtesy of the artist and Untitled gallery. Read More
The weekend before the opening of his midcareer retrospective at MoMA PS1, which opens to the public this Sunday, the painter Henry Taylor was walking through the museum’s first-floor galleries, inspecting the boxes that had just been shipped from his studio in Los Angeles. Some canvases were already leaning against the walls and others were sealed in bubble wrap. Some were still scattered around L.A. The month before, Mr. Taylor had gone to his daughter’s mother’s house there, where he had stored a number of pieces, only to discover they had been burned and destroyed (the circumstances are foggy). At PS1, he was walking through the show with Peter Eleey and Laura Hoptman, the exhibition’s two curators, rattling off stories about his work.
Later this month, MoMA Ps1 will open a 500-person “performance dome” in its spacious courtyard, part of its upcoming “Winter Open House” and set to coincide with a show by the painter Henry Taylor.