Critics’ Picks

Al Taylor, Untitled (Pea Passing Device), 1992, pencil, gouache, ink, and correction fluid on paper, 37 3/8 x 25 3/8".

Al Taylor, Untitled (Pea Passing Device), 1992, pencil, gouache, ink, and correction fluid on paper, 37 3/8 x 25 3/8".

New York

Al Taylor

David Zwirner | 519 West 19th Street
519 West 19th Street
September 7–October 27, 2012

The titles of the pieces in Al Taylor’s “Pass the Peas” series, 1991–92—like Pea Passing Device, or many that simply bear the name of the series in some augmented form—allude to a kineticism implied in the static objects and drawings themselves, now on display in David Zwirner’s third solo exhibition of the late artist’s work. The “peas” in question are both the small plastic rings, found under soda-bottle caps, which the artist placed along lengths of cable or hula hoops, and the small, wiry Os and daubs of ink in drawings created concomitantly with these objects, which served as references or general points of departure.

The concentrated engagement with circular forms Taylor initiated with the “Pass the Peas” series rolled on into 1993, first in the eccentric suspended arrangements of hula hoops and tin cans in an intermediate group of works titled “Cans and Hoops” and then as a series of works wholly devoted to cans often titled “Can Studys,” both of which appear in the latest exhibition.

Taylor never intended to create sculpture, as he stated in unequivocal terms in an interview from 1992 with Ulrich Loock, then director of the Kunsthalle Bern, adding, “All this activity leads toward painting.” The year 1985 marked Al Taylor’s complete departure from painting on canvas and his arrival into artistic maturity: It was then that he began using scavenged materials to reconstruct the elements from his paintings as simple, three-dimensional constructions. From there he sketched those constructions and then repeated the process, ad infinitum, using the resulting images as references for further object making. Creating an object from its source required Taylor to then imagine it from several new vantage points, effectively enabling him to shift his own perspective around within the original drawing. Any attempt at a genuine characterization of the artist’s endeavors must recognize the holistic importance seeing had in his cognitive schema. Taylor was unremittingly preoccupied with the syntactical edifice supporting the centuries-old notion of communicable retinal perception. Drawing provided a realm where Taylor could not only articulate but also manipulate that syntax to yield new forms and new realities.