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Art January, 20 2011

SMMoA | Al Taylor

To round out the openings at Santa Monica Museum of Art, a nod to the Al Taylor exhibition that will main exhibition hall from January 21 to April 16, 2011.

Al Taylor: Wire Instruments and Pet Stains is the first American survey of work by this important and prolific artist. The exhibition features two major series in Taylor’s vast oeuvre: Wire Instruments (1989-1990) and Pet Stains (1989-1992). These distinctive bodies of work will illustrate the importance of Taylor’s process and creative breadth.

Taylor was born in Springfield, Missouri in 1948. He studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and moved to New York in 1970, where he lived and worked until his death at the age of 51 from lung cancer in 1999. Taylor worked for many years as studio assistant to Robert Rauschenberg (where he met his future wife Debbie) and was acquainted with such burgeoning luminaries as James Rosenquist, Cy Twombly, and Brice Marden. Although these relationships nourished Taylor’s abundant talent, his future work was inspired but not defined by these friendships. Out of financial necessity, he scavenged art materials from the street. His connection with the commonplace–which remained unpredictable and deep–resulted in a body of work that is singular, inventive, and eloquent.

Taylor began his studio practice as a painter in the seventies and early eighties. By 1985, however, he had developed a unique approach to process that encompassed a synergistic relationship between two-dimensional drawings and three-dimensional assemblages. Taylor’s goal was to create a new way to experience and envision space; the works from this period helped him refine his investigations of visual perception across several dimensions. ”Al felt that his work was research into vision,” says Debbie Taylor. ”His work is really about looking, but he used everything around him. Seeing something could lead him to making one of these pieces, that could combine with something that he’d read that morning, or with some music playing on the stereo, or with something on TV. Any of those things could inspire him.”

The drawings and constructions titled Wire Instruments show Taylor experimenting with the simplest variations of geometric form (especially the triangle).

The body of work called Pet Stains (which includes Pet Stains, Pet Names, Pet Stain Removal Devices, and the Peabody Group) portrays sensuous, abstract imagery of drop-like puddles, formulated with toner, paint, or ink on paper.

Wire Instruments and Pet Stains will include 47 works.

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