Important Australian + International Fine Art
29 April 2009

Howard Taylor

(1918 - 2001)

oil on canvas on board

121.5 x 82.5 cm

$60,000 - 80,000
Sold for $66,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 8 - 29 April 2009, Melbourne

Goddard de Fiddes, Perth
Private collection, Perth

Catalogue text

The mesmerising nature of Howard Taylor's work resonates with the power and individuality of this extraordinary artist's language. Considered by many to be one of the most important Australian artists of the twentieth century, his sophisticated paintings demand the viewer to stop, look and absorb. At first glance, Taylor's work may seem to be simply minimal and reduced representations of the landscape, yet its richness and compelling nature becomes apparent as the subtle interplay of colour works upon the physical mechanics of the eye.

'His search for an essential unity and order underlying the apparent unruliness of nature resulted in an art that pulls between opposing forces on numerous levels, creating richly rewarding visual and conceptual tensions. Despite their formal simplicity, his works are irresistibly complex. Moving between painting and sculpture, figure and ground, literal and abstract, material and conceptual, local and global Taylor's art eludes definition. It articulates ideas concerning perception, the mechanics of vision, the relationship of work to site and the physical and conceptual interaction between artist, artwork and viewer, all arising from the artist's core interest in the visual phenomena he encountered in his particular corner of the world.'1

A signature trait that is consistent within Howard Taylor's work is the artist's focused, highly-disciplined and analytical approach to the conception and creation of paintings, wonderfully balanced with the physical, human experience of looking, seeing and feeling. Taylor was enthralled and absorbed by the nature of visual perception and has produced a body of work that will continue to engage and fascinate his audience. In the artist's words;

"Overall I find that I’m using any means available to me to express my relationship with nature. I don’t separate out painting from sculpture: I combine the two. I don’t separate out non-figurative work from figurative work: I can work in both modes as necessary. Because I’m involved with nature, light becomes perhaps my greatest concern. It can be rendered with colour or without colour, but it pervades the whole work. I am just using what I can to say intelligibly what I feel, and achieve some sort of excellence - which is rather an old fashioned word perhaps - achieve some sort of excellence in doing it.”2 In 2003, the late Howard Taylor was honoured with a major retrospective held at the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Appropriately titled, 'Phenomena', the exhibition included major examples of Taylor's work over a career spanning more than 50 years. Previously considered somewhat of a 'Western Australian secret' the retrospective exhibition caused a great explosion of interest in Taylor's work in the eastern states and a new recognition of the artist's stature in the history of twentieth century Australian art.

1. Storer, R., In a Silent Way, essay published in Dufour, G., Howard Taylor: Phenomena, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 2003, p. 54
2. Howard Taylor in an interview with James Murdoch in 1986 for the Australia Council Archives Series, published in Dufour, G., Howard Taylor: Phenomena, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 2003, p. 66