Philip Taaffe: Paintings From Five Decades

18 September 2021 - 29 January 2022

Philip Taaffe, born 1955 in New Jersey, is a contemporary artist and one of the most significant painters working in America. He studied at the Cooper Union in New York before traveling in the Middle East, India, South America, and Morocco. He also lived and worked in Naples from 1988-91. Taaffe is a leading figure for the renewed interest in abstraction since the 90s. His work has evolved throughout the years but he developed his distinctive style quite early in his career. Multiple cultural references from present and past times appear in his work creating multilayered final images of great complexity and extraordinary beauty. His working method also revolves around the appropriation of works: He incorporates elements from well-known artists as well as designs by unknown artisans. In these process-based abstractions Taaffe creates densely patterned works by melding iconography, design, art-historical motifs and personal experience.

While his earliest works are an homage to other artists from the modern period like Barnett Newman or Ellsworth Kelly, invoking these works as  in a magic ritual, the beginning of the 90s saw a major new development: Taaffe started to introduce zoological and botanical motifs regularly into his works and combined those with other decorative and architectural elements. These paintings show the interrelation between nature and art and are the basis of his visual language, which he culminates in his complexly layered paintings.

The works shown in this exhibition arrive from five decades spanning 1986 to 2021 and form a survey of his work, in which abstractions, ornamental patterns and marine images lead to renderings of Appenzeller balustrades.


Taaffe had solo exhibitions in numerous renowned museums, including the Carnegie International, two Sydney Biennals, and three Whitney Biennals. His work is part of numerous public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid.


Taaffe presently works and lives in Connecticut, USA.