Howard TAYLOR, No horizon Enlarge 1 /1


Hamilton, Victoria, Australia 1918 – Perth, Australia 2001

  • Enlgand 1938-49

No horizon 1994 Place made: Northcliffe, Western Australia, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, synthetic polymer paint on marine plywood

Dimensions: 183.0 h x 170.0 w x 45.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1997
Accession No: NGA 97.605
Image rights: © Howard H. Taylor Estate

No horizon belongs to an extraordinary group of ‘constructions’ made in the mid 1990s. In No horizon Howard Taylor explores the potential of the gently curving surface of the canvas to create the impression of a limitless expanse. The experience is at first disconcerting and, after contemplation, becomes pleasurable as we are drawn into the deliberation of an infinite and sublime space.

For more than five decades Taylor’s artistic vision was directed towards the Australian landscape. An incessant observer of natural phenomena, Taylor’s work became increasingly refined as he sought to convey the essences of light and structure.

Howard Taylor was born in Victoria. On active service with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War he was captured in 1940 and spent the duration of the war as a prisoner of war in Germany. He returned to Australia in 1949, settling in Western Australia.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

If you work very abstractly in a minimal sort of way you are still drawing on your experience of life itself, the physical business of seeing and the more subjective one of feeling.

Howard Taylor1

Howard Taylor created works with an intellectual and spiritual force and a subtle beauty.

In No horizon, he was concerned with reducing nature to its essential forms. He created a large, abstract, three-dimensional white wall piece, shaped into a curve – with shadows below the form, beside the form and on the form. He was interested in the dynamics of light. Here, however, instead of representing the impact of light on the natural world – at one remove, within the picture space – Taylor used light as an active member, a dynamic living force, creating shadows on and around his constructed curved surface. He encouraged us to look, to perceive the subtleties of light as it interacts on his form and on the world around us.

Taylor was always concerned with structure in nature and with the changing patterns of light. He lived for many years in the Darling Ranges east of Perth and at Northcliffe, among the karri forests in the south west. Although he never totally gave up making representational images, the general process of his art was the gradual reduction of the portrayal of light into its most essential – pure – form continues as the core of his achievements as an artist.

Anne Gray

1 Howard Taylor, interview with Ted Snell, 16 May 1993, in Ted Snell, Howard Taylor: Forest figure, Fremantle: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1995, p.101.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002