Rewind: Paul Taylor

Robert Mapplethorpe (Portrait of Paul Taylor) silver gelatine photograph, not dated or titled. Courtesy the artist and ACCA Archives

By Anna Schwartz

Paul Taylor invented the idea of a contemporary art culture in Australia. His engagement with individual artists became the ‘artworld’ of the early 1980’s, and the theories and connections that were drawn between them finally gave conservative critics something to sink their teeth into. Through his writing, editing, publishing, curating and his social energy he formed a circle which included artists as diverse in their practice as John Nixon and Vivienne Shark LeWitt, Jenny Watson and Maria Kozic, Peter Tyndall and Philip Brophy, Juan Davila, Linda Marrinon, Imants Tillers and Tony Clark among others. The list included nearly all the important practices of the time.

Paul articulated their ideas through ART&TEXT, his homegrown journal that built upon the articles and interviews he had been writing for Monash University’s Lot’s Wife as an art history student there in the 1970s. ART&TEXT gained a reputation around the world.  Having established his international credentials, Paul went to New York which became his new world. To walk the streets of SoHo with Paul in the day was to accompany a rock star.  

The title of his posthumous collected essays After Andy may be read two ways: Paul Taylor’s life succeeded Andy’s and continued the tradition established by Warhol of liaising with and matchmaking his contacts and reveling in the outcomes.  

publication, Impressario: Paul Taylor, The Melbourne Years, 1981-1984. Helen Hughes & Nicholas Croggon. courtesy The ACCA Archive

Paul was generous with his new-found connections and loved bringing together those he admired, adored and observed. I would arrive in New York and he would have an itinerary planned. ‘Leo at noon’ was one of his last meetings in the empty Castelli Gallery anteroom, with only a bowl of tulips.  Paul introduced me to those in his circle he hoped would become my role models as a gallerist.  

In 1992 Paul asked me to host a party in my gallery for his Australian friends. He was meticulous in its planning. Even the envelopes were subject to detailed criticism. I didn’t know it was to be his farewell. 

After Paul’s death, Jenepher Duncan arranged a memorial in the garden at ACCA. Works from Paul’s own collection were displayed on the walls (we were all arrested by the Mapplethorpe portrait) and several of his close artist friends and his brother Greg spoke, all thoughtfully and magnificently. His adored mother Pat was there and continued the rest of her life in the heart of the family of Paul's friends.

ACCA continues to be the cultural soul of Melbourne… the home of the experimental, the current, the “outrageous”. Paul had wanted to bequeath his collection to ACCA, had it been a collecting institution. This was not possible but his legacy lives in the culture of our time.


Paul Taylor: Memorial Tribute Exhibition
30 October – 8  November 1992
Artists: Howard Arkley, Joseph Beuys, Juan Davila, Keith Haring, Joseph Kosuth, Maria Kozic & Philip Brophy, Sherrie Levine, Simon Linke, Robert Mapplethorpe, Robert Morris, Peter Nagy, Mike Parr, Robert Rauschenberg, David Salle, Vivienne Shark LeWitt, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, Jenny Watson


In 1992 Anna Schwartz was the director of City Gallery in Flinders Lane, Melbourne. The following year she opened Anna Schwartz Gallery at 185 Flinders Lane. In 2008 the Gallery opened a second location in Sydney where it continues to diversify its programme.