One of the b...
view article on The New York Times | Published October 18, 2023
I remember Hammons talking about, you know, Picasso being influenced by Africans, and that we got to see what they saw and take it back, embrace our heritage, our history. So MOCA asked me to make a Christmas card. David was the first person I thought about. He was in New York, obviously, when he did that snowball sale piece, but I was going back to Africa. I put him in front of the Great Mosque of Djenné, and I added a hyena.Henry Taylor, as told to Travis Diehl in Artforum, October 3, 2023
The Nasher Museum is pleased to loan a painting by Henry Tailor for the exhibition Henry Taylor: B Side, on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art through January 28, 2024.
The work was last on view in 2018, within the exhibition People Get Ready, which was organized by Trevor Schoonmaker.
From the wall label: Henry Taylor creates inviting, empowering portraits of his subjects, who are frequently African American and range from close friends and family members to people in the news and strangers he meets on the street. In Hammons meets a hyena on holiday, Taylor presents a multi-layered scene. He draws directly from a photograph of artist David Hammons’s 1983 performance piece, Bliz-aard Ball Sale, in which Hammons sells snowballs on a New York City sidewalk. In the painting, Taylor transforms the coat hanging on the gate to the right in the photograph into Santa Claus’s red jacket, while Santa’s sleigh takes off in the background. The building behind Hammons is no longer New York’s Cooper Union (college), but the Mosque of Djenné in central Mali, built in 1907. The hyena may be a reference to the hyena men of Nigeria, travelling street performers popularized by South African photographer Pieter Hugo. In choosing Hammons—an African American artist—as his subject and reimagining the setting in Africa, Taylor celebrates black excellence in art and culture, displaying both his wry sense of humor and critical social commentary.
One of the best-known paintings in the show is Hammons meets a hyena on holiday (2016). It monumentalizes an indelible photograph of the artist David Hammons selling snowballs on the Bowery, a 1983 performance piece. But Taylor makes Hammons even more remarkable, taking Hammons back to his symbolic roots — in front of the red ocher facade of the Great Mosque at Djenné in Mali — with a grinning hyena nearby. He understands the futility of snowballs in Africa.Roberta Smith, co-chief art critic of The New York Times