Hollis Taggart’s mission has not wavered since he founded his gallery in 1979: “There is great art out there, beyond obvious brand names. It inspires and motivates us to bring awareness to these newly-discovered artists who warrant deeper examination.”
For four decades Hollis Taggart has maintained a deep commitment to scholarship in producing the gallery’s ongoing series of museum-quality retrospectives of important but neglected or even forgotten artists. Each is accompanied by a scholarly catalogue, which serves as an important chapter in American art history. These include some of the earliest American modernist painters such as Alfred Maurer [1868–1932] often called the first American modernist; Arthur B. Carles [1882–1952] one of the first proponents of Abstract Expressionism; the early abstractionist Manierre Dawson [1887–1969]; and, the visionary Edward Middleton Manigault [1887–1922]. One of the gallery’s catalogue raisonné projects is that for the Surrealist painter Kay Sage [1898–1963].
Taggart has continued to reinforce his AbEx niche by exhibiting artists who were active during the tumultuous Post War decades such as Theodoros Stamos [1922–1997], Marjorie Strider [1934–2014], Michael (Corinne) West [1908–1991], and Leon Berkowitz [1911–1987]. Some of the gallery’s artists from this era have continued on vibrant and prolific paths — such as Harry Bertschmann, Knox Martin, Audrey Flack, Idelle Weber, Sven Lukin, and others. In addition to these late career masters, the gallery’s Contemporary program is active in selecting those mid-career and emerging artists who are the most innovative descendants of American modernism.
Looking back, Taggart traces his success to integrating three deep backgrounds. Having grown up in a household filled with art and antiquities, he immersed himself in Art History at Washington and Lee University — and went on to earn a degree in Business Administration. Subsequently, he earned a law degree from Tulane University — where he received the Order of the Coif Award for scholastic excellence. While practicing maritime law in New Orleans he had an epiphany: “I was always interested in collecting art and also in traditional investments such as stocks and bonds. As time went on, the idea of combining the aesthetics of fine art along with investing led me to take a one-month leave of absence from law practice to spend full time learning about the art business — at Kurt Schon Gallery in New Orleans. At the end of that month, I followed my heart and chose to switch professions. I always figured I could return to law practice if I failed at dealing art. Fortunately, forty years later, I am still doing what I love.”
Hollis Taggart’s staff also reflects his expertise in art history and market trends. Grounded in scholarship, they present opportunities in a spirit of openness that has earned the trust of both collectors and museum curators.