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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Joe Taylor
(2012.201.B1277.0480, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS).


Head of the University of Oklahoma sculpture department, Joseph R. "Joe" Taylor became one of Oklahoma's most nationally known sculptors. Born February 1, 1907, in Wilbur, Washington, to Moses Richard and Lula Killman Taylor, young Joe Taylor grew up in Canada and in Chehalis, Washington, graduating from high school in 1927. His bachelor's and master's degrees in fine arts came from the University of Washington in 1931 and 1932. He also studied at Columbia University in 1940. In 1930 Taylor married Elsie Rapier.

At the University of Oklahoma in 1933 Joe Taylor began a distinguished career that spanned the century. He held a David Ross Boyd Distinguished Professorship from 1963 until becoming emeritus in 1971. Although retired from teaching, Taylor continued to work, creating figurative sculpture in all media, including wood, bronze, and stone.

Taylor exhibited in many important venues, including the Kansas City Art Institute, the New York World's Fair (1938–39), and the Museum of Modern Art (New York City). His work is held by IBM's Western Hemisphere Collection, the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, and the Seattle Art Museum. Among his commissions on view in Oklahoma are the Bizzell Memorial Statue, OU; Panther at Bay, Oklahoma City Museum of Art; and Little Joe, Goddard Center for Visual and Performing Arts, Ardmore.

In 1978 Joe Taylor received the Governor's Lifetime Service Award for Excellence in the Arts, and in 1981 his work was named best of show by the Oklahoma Sculpture Society. A member of the Oklahoma Sculpture Society and the Oklahoma Artists Association, Taylor also owned and operated a ranch in Grady County and raised purebred cattle. Joseph R. Taylor died December 1, 2000, in Norman.

Dianna Everett

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The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 9 and 10 December 2000.

Vertical Files, Save Outdoor Sculpture! Program, Oklahoma Museums Association, Oklahoma City.

Who's Who in American Art, 1991–1992 (19th ed.; New York: R. R. Bowker Co., 1990).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Dianna Everett, “Taylor, Joseph Richard,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=TA016.

Published January 15, 2010
Last updated February 6, 2020

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