Robert Taylor (artist)
|Notable work||Oklahoma lawmen Bass Reeves, Quanah Parker, and Bud Ledbetter mural in the Oklahoma Capitol|
|Style||symbolism and surrealism|
Robert Taylor is a self-taught Oklahoma artist of Native American descent whose symbolic paintings challenge the notion that Indian art should adhere to any one style. His work is best known for his usage of iconic symbols and manipulation of proportion seen often in the hands and feet.
Robert Taylor was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1951 and lived there his entire life, other than his time in the Navy starting in 1970. Some of Taylor's earliest inspiration came from his family. His maternal grandfather exposed him to Native traditions by taking him to powwows and his maternal uncle was a well-known wildlife painter. Taylor graduated from Will Rogers High School in 1969, where he played baseball and football. He went on a sports scholarship to Central Missouri State in Warrensburg, Missouri for a short time until he was injured during the first semester. He dropped out of Central Missouri State to transfer to the University of Tulsa but was drafted before he completed the move. Taylor was in the Navy from 1970 to 1972. After he got out of the Navy, Taylor began pursuing art. He began with a more traditional style but was influenced by an exhibition of Paul Pletka’s work as well as John Bigger.
Taylor's style is heavily influenced by that of Paul Pletka. Taylor used universal symbols in his paintings that express similar thoughts from various religious traditions. He also intentionally exaggerates the proportions of hands and feet in his paintings of turn-of-the-century Indians. The enlarged hands symbolize dexterous minds as well as the elevation of the human species among all others. Enlarged feet symbolize that we are bound to the earth physically while our dreams and aspirations are spiritual. He works primarily with watercolors, acrylics, pen and ink, and prints.
Taylor's definition of art is open-ended. He considers himself "a doormaker." If he "decorate[s] the door right, someone will stop and open it. Where it leads them is what art is, not what [he] constructed."
Exhibitions and awards
Some of the numerous shows in which Taylor has exhibited and won awards for his work include:
- Trail of Tears Art Show at the Cherokee National Museum
- Five Civilized Tribes Museum
- Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial
- Trail of Tears State Park Gallery
- Los Angeles International Contemporary Art Fair
- Red Earth Festival
- International Art Festival
- Smithsonian Institution
His artwork is also featured in numerous public and private art collections.
- Pearson Little-Thunder, Julie (September 15, 2010). "Oral history interview with Robert Taylor". Oklahoma Native Artists. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Pearson, Julie. "Robert Taylor". Southwest Art. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- "Robert Taylor". Pierson Gallery. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- "Taylor, Robert". Native Arts of America. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Skeen, Kelly. "Week Eight: Robert Taylor". WordPress. Retrieved 17 August 2015.