​Henry Taylor: nurse, anthropologist, and painter

High Line Art presents a wide array of artwork including site-specific commissions, exhibitions, performances, video programs, and a series of billboard interventions. For his High Line Commission, Los Angeles-based painter Henry Taylor installs a mural titled the floaters, a new, large-scale version of a self-portrait on the side of a building on West 22nd Street, adjacent to the High Line.

Henry Taylor (b. 1958, Ventura, California) is a painter known for his color-blocked portraits of people, focusing on subjects spanning from family members and friends to celebrities and strangers who pique his interest. His fascination with people has followed him his whole life: as a little boy, he habitually studied people going to and from church, marveling at their outfits. Later on, he would go on to study anthropology and journalism in college. It was also during his time at Oxnard College that he fell in love with the study of art under the instruction of James Jarvaise, whose classes he took even after he graduated. Upon graduation, Taylor became a nurse at the state mental health facility where he remained for 10 years, working the night shift and auditing Jarvaise's classes during the day. At the urging of Jarvaise, Taylor finally enrolled in the California Institute of the Arts in 1989 at the age of 31, graduating at age 33.

Photo by Timothy Schenck.

For his first-ever mural, Taylor brings the west coast to New York with the floaters, which depicts the artist and a friend relaxing in a swimming pool in Palm Springs. Reminiscent of David Hockney's paintings of Los Angeles swimming pools from the 1960s, the floaters, a title which references the eponymous Detroit R&B group (see below to hear "Float On" by The Floaters), portrays the artist in a moment of pure, leisurely happiness.

Major support for High Line Art comes from Donald R. Mullen, Jr. and The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston. Additional funding is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council and from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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