January 10, 2012

Anna Heyward Taylor

        Anna Heyward Taylor (1879-1956) was an artist known for her block prints and watercolors.  She's particularly known for her work depicting landscape and culture of South Carolina, where she was born and lived for much of her life.  She did, however, travel extensively, where she worked with artists who specialized in Japanese style woodcuts, and artists in Provincetown, Massachusetts, who were developing their own unique style of woodcuts.  (There will be posts on each of these styles some day, no doubt.)  So while Taylor is known as a regional artist, her work was certainly influenced by her broad artistic education.

        One thing I find particularly pleasing about Taylor's work is the balance of black and white.  In this image of Charleston in the distance, for example, the heavy blackness of the tree makes a nice frame, and the blackness of the tiny buildings contrasts perfectly with the whiteness of the intervening space.
        In this one, Bennett's Rice Mill, I really enjoy the "carviness" of the lines.  There's no lack of detail, but the piece looks distinctly carved.  You can see the direction and depth of the blade.  I really like that hand-crafted quality.
        Taylor did a lot of pictures relating to the agriculture of South Carolina, from boll weevils to people working in the cotton fields.  Bennet's Rice Mill is from one series of South Carolina subjects.  (I'd like to include one with field workers, but I don't have enough space, so be sure to check out some of the other images at the Gibbes Museum of Art.)  Anna Heyward Taylor also did pictures of South Carolina animals, a subject I can really relate to, since I keep coming back to my local animals as subjects.
        I think Anna Heyward Taylor deserves a little more recognition.

[Pictures: Charleston Housetops, wood block print by Anna Heyward Taylor, c 1920;
The City, linoleum block print by Taylor, 1939;
Bennett's Rice Mill from the series "This Our Land," linoleum block print by Taylor, 1948;
White Egrets from the series "This Our Land," linoleum block print by Taylor, 1948.
(All images from the Gibbes Museum of Art.)]


Stephen Borkowski said...

Taylor was a student of E. Ambrose Webster, he taught from 1900-1935. During the time that she visited Provincetown many artists were exploring the wood block print as a method of expression. Wonderful to see her work and place it in context during the period she worked there. For more information please visit www.provincetownartistregistry.com

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks, Stephen!