ClampArt is pleased to announce “Curtice Taylor | Victorian Men”—the artist’s first solo show with the gallery. Curtice Taylor imagines a young English gentleman moving to New York City in the late 19th century. He is the third son of a well-to-do, perhaps aristocratic family. Not in line for major inheritance or title, the imaginary man came to America where the prosecution for his private proclivities were less severe. Well-educated like other men of his class, he was also intrigued by the scientific breakthroughs of the day from Darwinism to archeology. Photography, the very new, scientific process for capturing reality, particularly fascinated him. Upon arriving in the city, he joined one of the many flourishing camera clubs and soon found a studio with north-facing light overlooking Union Square.
Taylor pictures the artist as well traveled, visiting and photographing Roman ruins and papal gardens. And when back in England, he photographs English gardens and landscapes, along with the odd portrait. It was these images for which he was known, and many were sold in a few well-placed galleries.
However, it was in New York that Taylor’s mythical artist photographed male models, which make up the bulk, though not all, of his “found portfolio.”
It is with this fictional man in mind that Curtice Taylor shoots portraits in his actual studio on Union Square in New York, which was built in the early 1900s, complete with northern light. Employing alternative printing processes of the 19th-century, specifically cyanotype often toned with ammonia and tannic acid, Taylor then frames the works in period frames or appropriate reproductions, building his own collection of portraits of Victorian men. Taylor writes: “I see my artist behind his 8 x 10, wood and brass camera instructing a model to stand nearer to the draped curtain and to not look at the camera.” In fact, it is Taylor himself directing the young men which appear in his images.
Taylor augments the photographs with written artifacts of the Victorian era to reflect the frustrations, anxieties, and longings of gay men who lived in those painful times. “While my work is imbued with nostalgic thoughts and aesthetics, it also recalls past desires and longing for the glow of youthful skin illuminated by natural light.”
Curtice Taylor has been a photographer and educator since the early 1980s. His editorial photographs have appeared in every major shelter magazine in the US and UK, as well as in many books. His book Rescuing Eden, published in 2015, was favorably reviewed by The New York Times. His next garden book, Sleepy Cat Farm: A Gardener's Journey, was published by Monacelli Press in the fall of 2021. Taylor has taught at SUNY Purchase, Maine Media Workshop, and recently retired after thirty years as a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts. He has lectured at the George Eastman Museum, Rochester, New York, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He has had one-man shows at the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut; New York Horticultural Society, New York; and OK Harris Gallery, New York. Taylor has been in group shows at Performance Space, New York; Lucky Street Gallery, Key West, Florida; and the Leslie-Lohman Museum, New York. His images and artwork have appeared on covers for Knopf, Random House, Viking Penguin, Harper Collins, and Crown Publishers. His artwork has also appeared on albums and CDs for Atlantic Records, Arista, Epic, Columbia, and RCA.