7 Years of Painting: An Interview With Taylor McKimens

Brooklyn-based artist Taylor McKimens currently has a show up in Chelsea that focuses solely on artwork that has been commissioned since 2008 by Canadian super-collector Paul Bright. Here we talk with Taylor about his relationship with Paul, the work itself, and what’s been going on the past 7 years.

How did you and Paul Bright meet?

We met at an art opening in Chelsea maybe around 2005 or so. I think we may have talked by email before but after that opening was the first time we ever really started hanging out. He ended up opening a gallery in his hometown of London, Ontario and I used to show there along with Ben Jones, Barry McGee, Misaki Kawai, Matt Leines, Dearraindrop and a lot of other really great artists. I moved up there for a year too around 2007. It was a really interesting place and time.

What was your first commission?

I can’t exactly remember the first but one of the first was a group of plant sculptures that he had me make for some of his furniture friends in Toronto in exchange for a year’s rent on a house in London. That was during the time that the economy tanked and my NY gallery at that time (Clementine Gallery) closed for good.

How many pieces have made so far? Is there any process or do you have free reign?

I was surprised getting this show together how many pieces have been commissioned or bought by Paul. I can’t exactly say what a number would be. It’s all been very unofficial. He’s really believed in the work and has been a constant supporter through this time when the popularity of slacker abstraction or whatever it’s being called has been booming. A lot of boring artists who normally struggle with the process of making art found it easy to crank out “conceptual” process based artwork to supply the hungry art market for an easy payoff and some sense of quick success. All the while galleries’ art fair booths and show calendars have pandered to all the easy money leaving a lot of genuinely exceptional artists struggling financially. I can’t blame them for doing what they have to do to keep the lights on, but few people like Paul have held steadfast in their support for artists they believe in without regard for temporary trends. I’ve been lucky to have his support really. He’s never pushed to alter or restrict what I make. He requested that the two large paintings in this show be a type of diptych or pair with some sort of connection. I think it’s a loose reference for him to the pair of Dance paintings commissioned of his favorite artist Matisse by Sergei Shchukin.

Do you make commissions for other patrons as well?

I’ve made some commissions for other people, but mainly portraits. I’ve been excited about the idea of the traditional commissioned portrait. It seems like an art form that has dropped off some. I love the portraits Hockney has done. Also Alex Katz and Alice Neel. These are all artists from an older generation though. I’m not sure of many younger artists who are making portraits that are visually articulate and doing something to add to the tradition rather than just borrow from it. I’m excited about taking a crack at that.

How does it feel to be back in Chelsea?

Haha it’s nice to have a show up in Chelsea, but it definitely feels different in that neighborhood. I’m happy to have a large group of paintings to show in NYC in general. It’s been good showing friends some of the things I’ve been up to these past few years.

Taylor’s show is on view through February 17th at 455 West 19th Street in NYC.


One Comment, Comment or Ping

  1. Arlo

    Awesome interview. Such an interesting story here about the relationship between an artist and a patron. People don’t talk enough about the nitty gritty of how you actually get paid–some of the details of how you make a living–as an artist.

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