Robert Taylor (U.S., b. 1951) is a self-taught artist known for his use of iconic symbols and manipulation of bodily proportions as a symbolic representation of human connections to the earth and sky. Taylor’s paintings often depict figures from Native American life at the end of the reservation era, around the turn of the twentieth century, but his interest in mysticism often gives the work an enigmatic tone. He describes his deeply symbolic works as a response to a variety of religious traditions. Taylor drew influence from the work of Paul Pletka and John Biggers. The exaggerated hands and feet that characterize Taylor’s figures have been interpreted as references to both the ingenuity of humanity and its rootedness in the earth, respectively.
Taylor serves as the sixth guest artist in the university’s Jerome M. Westheimer, Sr. and Wanda Otey Westheimer Distinguished Visiting Artist Chair program.
In addition to works on display inside the museum, multiple works from the museum’s permanent collection are on display inside the OU Health Sciences Center’s Harold Hamm Oklahoma Diabetes Center and the Jim Thorpe Multicultural Center on the OU Norman campus.
Taylor attended Central Missouri State and the University of Tulsa, though he never completed a formal education. He was drafted into the Navy, where he served from 1970 to 1972. Taylor has exhibited and received awards from the Trail of Tears exhibition at the Cherokee National Museum in Tahlequah, the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, the Los Angeles Contemporary Art Fair, the Red Earth Festival, and the Smithsonian Institution. In 2005, he was commissioned by the State of Oklahoma to create a triptych commemorating the U.S. marshals who served in Indian Territory. See press release here for more information.
Robert Lee Taylor (U.S., b. 1951)
In the Mourning of the Night They Come to Me, 1998
Acrylic, 20 x 16 in.
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. R.E. Mansfield, 2003