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  • In the Studio With the Artist Who Painted Jay-Z

    When we write about Henry Taylor’s paintings, we all use the word empathy. You actually can’t help it. The guy sees right into you. Meeting him was like a palate cleanser directly after meeting Shepard Fairey—he smoked and screamed with laughter the entire interview, and he said he’s so over reading about the lateness of his higher education or how he’s “loud.” He told me, “When you’re pressed for time, sometimes pressure makes diamonds, sometimes you just do the best you can. If I only have two eggs I’m gonna make sure I’m not gonna burn them motherfuckers,” and that’s a little scrap of treasure i’m going to reclaim from the cutting room floor.

    I don't think I did the best I could for him on this one. I agonized for a while over one edit of three little words—i wrote that Henry Taylor is "a star player in the art world," and my editor wrote back "a star player in the art world for TK, TK, and TK," the standard placeholder for journalistic fill-in-the-blank situations. Sometimes you fail to come up with the right answer before deadline, but I think what it is, is the bluntness; bluntness of brushstroke, which reduces his subjects into these blocks of dense, saturated colors, and bluntness of his portrayal of vernacular black life both visually and in his titles. See: “The Times They Ain't A Changing, Fast Enough!.” Obvs, I went with "empathetic." Read about it at T