Harry G. Taylor
Harry George Taylor was born in Detroit , Michigan in 1918. He is a printmaker known for bold design, simplicity, and clarity combined with woodcut, etching, and photo processes. He lives in Ogden, Utah.
Taylor earned his BFA and MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago where he studied under Boris Ainisfeld and Moishe Smith. Influences from Australia, New Zealand, and Africa are shown in Taylor's work. Taylor also taught at Weber State University.
Taylor's work is included in the collections of the University of Utah, the Utah Arts Council, and the Salt Lake Art Center. Greek Warrior (1993) and Middle Woodland (1988) were both exhibited in Springville Museum of Art spring salon. Bird Woman (1997) is another example of his work.
Biographical information on this page was adapted from Lila Abersold and autobiographical information Mr. Taylor provided.in the Lieutenant Governor's Invitational Exhibition Catalog, 2001.
Harry Taylor was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1918, of upper-class parents. During high school he attended Saturday art classes at the Art Institute of Detroit. In the thirties, he moved to Chicago and enrolled in the Art Institute there. However, his art studies were delayed by the advent of WW II. He spent three years of the war in the South Pacific, and the art of the native cultures there became a strong influence in his art.
After his stint in the military, Taylor returned to the United States, and with the aid of the GI bill, obtained his master's degree in 1948 from the Art Institute of Chicago. He moved to Utah in the fifties and worked as art director for Meridian Publishing Co. for 30 years. In 1985, he retired. Taylor and his wife still live in Ogden.
Taylor has incorporated many different influences from his world travels into his art, in addition to those from the time he spent in Australia and New Zealand. While social issues have always been important to Taylor, a well-developed sense of humor has also been a constant in his work.
Design is a powerful element in his woodcut prints. “Design, design, design, this is how I begin my work whether objective or nonobjective. I also like to put a little humor in my work. I am chuckling when I do some of these things. I like to pull a leg now and then.“
Taylor says his art “has continued to evolve. If I thought I was going downhill I would probably quit, but I'll leave that up to the critics. I can't worry about its meritmaybe I'm being superstitious, but I have to drive myself to create.“
Harry Taylor exhibits internationally and is especially known for his woodcuts. He is a member of the California Society of Printmakers and received the Utah Governor's Award for the arts in 1998. His work is in many public and private collections including the University of Utah, the Salt Lake Art Center, and the Utah Arts Council. Retrospective exhibitions of his work have been displayed at both the Brigham City Museum and Art Access Gallery. He was chosen as one of four Utah artists to be featured in the Lt. Governor's Invitational Exhibition at the State Capital building in September 2001.
The artist has Lou Gehrig's disease and as his illness has progressed, he has had to adapt to new ways of making his art. He says that such challenges give him a fresh outlook as he figures out ways to get around them.
The influences of aboriginal work as well as his sense of humor is evident in the woodcut Dancing Bear. Although strongly reminiscent of Australian Aboriginal work, the lightheartedness of the form is Taylor's own. His emphasis on design is particularly evident in Killer Bee: the repeated shapes of the bee hives are echoed in the breasts, the shape of the head, and the curve of the body. The entire surface of the print is activated by the texture created by the narrow gouge cuts, so that although the large bee is still, the artwork buzzes with energy. In addition, the more realistic shape of the bee as balanced against the abstract figure emphasizes the importance of the bee. The outsize proportion of the bee to the figure perhaps is pulling our leg a bit, as Taylor says he likes to do: questioning our dramatization of killer bees.
Harry Taylor offers the following information about himself as well as advice for art students:
“I enjoy working with wood. The feel and smell give me much joy. It's the first printing process. We have always had wood around and a chisel. That's all you need and you're in business.
Woodcuts are a bold medium, or should be. Keep it bold and simple. Bold shapes and color, and you can't go wrong. Take a big brush and fill the page. Then go after details. Then transfer your design to the woodblock.
Design things you know and experience every day. Don't copy photos but draw from nature. Really look at a tree. Feel the bark, smell the bark, taste the leaves. Experience all the senses. Above all, don't listen to adults. Do your thing. (Well, maybe art teachers) Keep it fun, and enjoy yourself.
I hope you find some of my work crazy, fun, far out, serious but not boring.“
Taylor has refined the specific process he uses to create woodcuts:
“With woodcuts it is common to cut a different block for each color. I thought there must be an easier way. I use one block, front and back, color on one side and key plate on the other side. I tape the paper to the printer's bench, so it is always in register. When I cut my key plate I leave a black [or other color] line between the colors. When I finish cutting the key plate, I use a heavy coat of ink and make a proof on newsprint, turn it over and burnish on the other side. Now it is in perfect register. On the color side I cut, with a u-gouge, the black lines that separate the color. Then I turn the block and print the key plate.“
Biography courtesy of the artist and Lila Abersold, ed. The Lt. Governor's Invitational Exhibition Catalog, 2001
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