Henry Taylor

Legendary artist Henry Taylor's first major monograph chronicles his life and work--the "visual equivalent of the blues."

This definitive survey of over 200 of the painter's portraits and street scenes forms a personal and political portrait of society today. For three decades the iconic artist has worked his way through New York, Los Angeles, Europe, and Africa, documenting what he sees. In his circle are artists, musicians, writers, performers, as well as friends from his ten years as a psychiatric technician. It is the artist's empathetic eye that allows him to imagine his figures with authenticity and grace--not better than they are, or more glamorous--but part of a big, complicated world. Flat, brushy flows of color cast figures that often float in surreal landscapes abstracted from the barbeque in the park, or neighboring street.
Suites of Taylor's paintings are reproduced alongside handwritten accounts of the sittings, offering an in-depth understanding of the artist's world. Contributions by Charles Gaines, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Sarah Lewis, and Zadie Smith touch on the nature of truth, racial terror; memory and belonging in America. This definitive monograph celebrates Taylor's direct and revealing portraits, offering a tonic to a divisive cultural moment.

About The Author

Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah is an essayist and critic whose writing has appeared in the Paris Review, New York Times Magazine, New York Observer, Bookforum, and Rolling Stone. Ghansah has drawn particular recognition for her longform profiles of subjects like Kendrick Lamar and Toni Morrison.
Zadie Smith FRSL is an English novelist, essayist, and short-story writer. Smith has won the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and her novel White Teeth was included in Time magazine's list of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005.
Sarah Lewis is Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture and African American Studies at Harvard University.
Charles Gaines is highly regarded as both a leading practitioner of conceptualism and an influential educator at the California Institute of the Arts. Gaines's work has been exhibited internationally, including Museum of Contemporary Art, L.A., the Hammer Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the 56th Venice Biennale.

  • Publish Date: October 09, 2018
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Category: Art - Individual Artists - Monographs
  • Publisher: Rizzoli Electa
  • Trim Size: 10 x 12
  • Pages: 320
  • US Price: $65.00
  • CDN Price: $85.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-8478-6310-5


"Taylor shows “black history the way many black people actually experience it,” Smith writes." —New York Times Book Review

OVERFLOWING WITH MORE THAN 200 IMAGES, this new monograph documents the practice of Henry Taylor, the Los Angeles artist known for his bluesy approach to abstract figuration. It’s a wonderful book and a genuinely good read. The first major volume to survey his career, “Henry Taylor” offers five ways of looking at the artist—through full-color illustrations of his works, mostly paintings and some sculptures and installations; handwritten notes and jottings interspersed throughout the pages that capture his momentary thoughts; an interview conducted by fellow Los Angeles artist Charles Gaines; and essays by Harvard University art historian Sarah Lewis, acclaimed British author Zadie Smith, and 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning essayist Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah. A testament to their readability (and Taylor’s relatability), two of the essays were published in magazines intended for general audiences in advance of the book’s release. Smith’s distillation appeared in The New Yorker and Ghansah’s feature profile was included in New York magazine."
Culture Type

Author Bookshelf: Sarah Lewis

Author Bookshelf: Zadie Smith