David Taylor would often cite the words of Turner regarding his own œuvre: “What is the good of them, if they are not kept together?” Throughout his career he chose to keep his major work together and it is the purpose of this website to keep faith with the spirit of the artist’s wishes while introducing these previously unknown paintings.
Born David George Taylor, September 1st, in Toronto, Ontario.
Taylor attended art classes offered at the Toronto Art Gallery (now the Art gallery of Ontario).
1955, 1958, 1969
B.A., M.A., Ph.D., University of Toronto, University College. Doctoral work under Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan. He satisfied two departments – Philosophy and English – for his thesis on the British art critic Roger Fry.
He obtained his first teaching position and studio at Huron College, University Of Western Ontario. “There, at last, I could really paint – could attempt something large. Up to this point all of my paintings (at least those I care to own to) had been of only moderate size.” (Taylor, The Winnowed Field - handwritten memoir).
He produced his first two major works: Peniel and The Sounding of the Seventh Angel. He also designed, produced and directed student productions of Caesar and Cleopatra, Murder in the Cathedral, and The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.
David wrote The April Oyster, a play which Northrop Frye reviewed favourably.
Taylor moved to Montreal in order to take on a teaching position at McGill University. His second studio situated on Redpath Crescent on the side of Mount Royal proved to be ideal for painting with its tall winged ceiling and banked windows offering a southern view of the St. Lawrence River and beyond. Here he completed his doctoral work and painted most of the canvases in the visionary symbolic period.
With his friend Paul Butler, he undertook a number of hiking trips into the White Mountains of New Hampshire where he found inspiration for the Ezekiel and Likeness of the Ox paintings.
His first and only exhibition took place at the Unitarian Church in Toronto. The paintings on view included Peniel, The Sounding of the Seventh Angel, The New Jerusalem – Building of the City, and Silence. A few days after the show opened it was closed, as parishioners complained the works were “religious” and there were threats that the police would be called. (Taylor, The Winnowed Field). Northrop Frye, who attended, was to comment, “I didn’t think you could commit sacrilege in the Unitarian Church.”
Taylor’s contract at McGill ended that same year, and he obtained a teaching position at Concordia University with eventual tenure.
Over three summers, he built his Toronto studio, with more than seventy windows, multiple skylights.
He published “The Aesthetic Theories of Roger Fry Reconsidered,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, xxxvi/1 Fall 1977.
Taylor published “Aesthetic Personality,” International Journal of Aesthetics and Philosophy of Culture – Lier En Boog, Volume 5, Issue 2.
After availing himself of all the sabbaticals due to him (1986, 1989 and 1990 – an extra year without pay), in order to continue painting full time, Taylor accepted diminished income and took early retirement from Concordia. With his friend Paul Butler, he continued to undertake trips – now by canoe – into the wilderness: Algonquin, Quetico and Lady Evelyn Smooth Water River. These trips provided the inspiration for all of the major paintings in the visionary landscape period as well as Paddler Floating In Time from the earlier visionary figurative.
During this stage of his career, Taylor supplemented his financial resources with a number of commissioned portraits.
David wrote his family memoir – The Winnowed Field – in which he describes his feeling of spiritual affinity with the Canadian painter Tom Thomson.
David published a book of short stories titled Moriah, and completed two more books of short stories: The Swans and Something Like Ulysses and four novels: The Burning Blue, I, Genghis, The Cellist, and Tales Of The Aquitane.
When his health failed him, David was forced to sell his Willowdale home and studio and return to Montreal.
David Taylor died, April 2nd, in Hôtel Dieu Hospital, a short distance from his second studio on the side of Mount Royal.