Henry Taylor, the democratic king of portraiture, makes his L.A. homecoming at MOCA on March 4th, 2014
In November 2013, I found myself at the center of a swirl of controversy when I photographed an exhibition of paintings by a Los Angeles-born painter called Henry Taylor. I had attended a gallery opening of the painting, and there, amid an eclectic crowd of people who included a few prominent art historians — and then one of my critics and fellow commentators. I had just done an art show for the MOCA, a gallery within the Museum of Contemporary Art, and I thought everyone at the gallery had been nice enough to introduce and introduce and introduce me to the people in attendance. I had not met anyone who was very high up in the art world.
At first, I could not understand where my critique had come from. I did not know that there was any controversy. And I had not heard the criticisms directed at me at all. I had been too busy enjoying the show. I was not aware of the controversy. I did not know that there were people who thought they knew who I was, and were surprised to find that it was not actually me, but someone I was photographing for an art blog.
There was something of a storm in a teacup when the criticisms of my art blog began to be published online. Many people thought it was the work of an art critic for a very small city newspaper.
I was not going to defend myself. I had not been doing anything remotely offensive or objectionable. I had not taken photographs of people in bathing suits. I had not photographed public toilets. I had not photographed any people at all. I had photographed the exhibition space at MOCA, which was part of the Museum of Contemporary Art. The criticisms had nothing to do with the exhibition. Their source was the art blog, which I had never heard of. They were not directed at me. I thought I had won the debate.
For several days, I remained silent. I did not know what else to say. I had done nothing wrong, but there was now this controversy. I thought that a few days would make all the differences. They had been many. I thought I would just shake my head and think everything through.
Then, I received the first negative reviews. I could see that my criticism had been met with incredulity. I was like someone walking down the street, and a stranger walking by says