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Henry Taylor Wins $25,000 Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize

Henry Taylor, Cicely and Miles Visit the Obamas, 2017, acrylic on canvas.

©HENRY TAYLOR/COURTESY THE ARTIST AND BLUM & POE, LOS ANGELES, NEW YORK, AND TOKYO

The painter Henry Taylor has won this year’s Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize, which comes with $25,000 and is awarded annually by the Tribeca Film Institute to a mid-career painter.

Taylor has become well-known for his paintings of black Americans engaged in everyday activities—lounging on lawn chairs, cutting each other’s hair, playing card games, smoking cigarettes. His figurative portraits have drawn comparisons to Alice Neel and Kerry James Marshall, and the style of his paintings, with their thin brushwork and deliberately undefined forms, has been likened to outsider art.

A show of Taylor’s work was recently on view at Blum & Poe gallery in Tokyo. He has also been the subject of major solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1 and the Mistake Room, and was included in the most recent edition of the Whitney Biennial.

In a statement, Robert De Niro, Jr., said of the artist’s win, “I very much admire Henry Taylor’s lifelong dedication to his work and his continued devotion to painting through his teaching. I am proud to recognize Taylor’s career through this prize that honors my father’s memory, and I am grateful to the selection committee for their choice of Henry Taylor this year.”

This year, the selection committee was comprised of ARTnews editor-in-chief Sarah Douglas, Dia Art Foundation chief curator and deputy director Courtney Martin, and Guggenheim Museum associate curator Susan Thompson. Past winners of the prize include Joyce Pensato (2012), Laura Owens (2014), and R. H. Quaytman (2016).

As for Taylor himself, he had just this to say in a statement: “Good things come to those who wait.”

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