Six Panels: Al Taylor
Guest Curated by Robert Storr
Six Panels is a new series of exhibitions organized by guest curators in the Painting Gallery at the Glass House. When the Glass House was the private residence of Philip Johnson and David Whitney, the gallery had an active life as new works were acquired and displayed. Building upon this legacy, Six Panels – named for the gallery’s unique display system – will inaugurate the Painting Gallery as a site of temporary exhibitions for the public.
The first exhibition in this series presented the work of Al Taylor (1948 – 1999), an artist who Johnson and Whitney collected and knew well. Six Panels: Al Taylor was organized by Robert Storr, a former Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art who worked closely with Johnson and Whitney, and is now the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Dean of the Yale School of Art.
Six Panels: Al Taylor comprised a selection of drawings and three-dimensional assemblages fashioned from humble, often whimsically chosen materials, including wire, bits of scrap wood, tin cans, and broom handles. Although Taylor trained as a painter, he worked dialogically between media: drawings would often form the basis for assemblages, which in turn would generate new explorations on paper. When asked about the relationship between these seemingly independent modes of making, the artist said, “Working on paper or on pieces really is the same thing; it’s all one activity that I am not interested in separating. […] I am trying to find a way to paint; all of this activity is leading towards painting.” According to Storr, “Taylor thought in three dimensions, whether the work at hand was a flat drawing or a convoluted and suspended amalgam of disparate shapes. He is one of the most inventive ‘space-makers’ in the recent history of contemporary art.”
Designed by Johnson and completed in 1965, the Painting Gallery is a cloverleaf-shaped berm structure that includes three tangent circular rooms with rotating display panels. During their lifetime, Johnson and Whitney used the gallery to store and display their collection, most of which they eventually gave to MoMA. Today, the gallery showcases a selection of the Glass House permanent collection, including works by Robert Rauschenberg, David Salle, Julian Schnabel, Cindy Sherman, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol.
Al Taylor was born in 1948 in Springfield, Missouri, and studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Whitney Independent Study Program. He moved to New York in 1970, where he lived and worked until his death in 1999. His first solo exhibition took place in 1986 at the Alfred Kren Gallery in New York, and his work has been included in numerous exhibitions in America and Europe, including solo exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Bern (1992); the Kunstmuseum Luzern (1999); the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung at the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2006 and 2010); the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (2011); the Santa Monica Museum of Art, California (2011); and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta (2013).
Robert Storr is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Dean of the Yale School of Art. He was formerly Senior Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, where in 1996 he co-organized From Bauhaus to Pop: Masterworks Given by Philip Johnson. In 2002 he was named the first Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. He has also taught at the CUNY Graduate Center, the Bard Center for Curatorial Studies, the Rhode Island School of Design, Tyler School of Art, New York Studio School, and Harvard University. He has been a frequent lecturer in this country and abroad. From 2005 to 2007 he was Director of Visual Art for the Venice Biennale, the first American invited to assume that position. The exhibition he organized at David Zwirner in the Fall of 2013 to celebrate the centenary of Ad Reinhardt was voted “Best Show in a New York Commercial Space” by the American Section of the AICA (Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art).