Phil Taylor



Phil Taylor’s research focuses on photography’s place within 20th-century avant-garde art. Currently Taylor is based in Paris, where he is working on his dissertation, “Raoul Ubac’s Photographic Surrealism,” as the 2014–17 David E. Finley Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. 

His dissertation considers the work of Raoul Ubac (1910–85) as it is situated in French surrealism of the 1930s, but also as it intersects with a less familiar constellation of artists and movements. Ubac’s technically innovative elaboration of modernist photographic processes leads his works to encroach on other mediums. Significantly, there is a political dimension to this mode of experimentation and its unique intermedial resemblance. The dissertation posits Ubac as a figure through which to develop new perspectives on the position of avant-garde photography in the 1930s, on surrealism and photography’s role within it, and on the relationship of the avant-garde to the tumultuous politics of the time.

Taylor holds a B.A. in English literature with a minor in photography from the University of Southern California; he received his M.A. from Princeton in 2012. He is the primary author of Various Small Books: Referencing Various Small Books by Ed Ruscha (M.I.T. Press, 2013). Prior to coming to Princeton, Taylor organized Of the Refrain at Robert Mann Gallery in New York in 2008, an exhibition of modernist photographs engaging commercial genres including advertising still life, fashion, portraiture, and dance photography.

Collaborating with department graduate students Erica DiBenedetto, Peter Fox, and Kristin Poor, Phil initiated and directed the Department of Art and Archaeology’s “Framing Practices” series of workshops, led by contemporary artists, from 2013 to 2014.

Selected Publications

“Review: Thomas Demand at Matthew Marks Gallery, New York,” Modern Painters (March 2014).

“Review: Dada and Surrealist Objects at Blain|DiDonna Gallery, New York,” Modern Painters (February 2014).

Various Small Books: Referencing Various Small Books by Ed Ruscha, ed. Jeff Brouws, Wendy Burton, and Hermann Zschiegner (M.I.T. Press, 2013).

“Specific Exposures: The Photography of Hans-Christian Schink,” in Hans-Christian Schink (Hatje Cantz, 2011).