Have you ever wondered who paints the pictures used in movies? For his recent film The Grand Budapest Hotel, director Wes Anderson commissioned contemporary British figurative painter Michael Taylor to paint a fictional Renaissance portrait titled Boy with Apple. The film’s plot builds from the artwork, which features a stately, pre-pubescent boy in sumptuous fabrics, holding a plump, if not slightly bruised green apple. The charming intrigue of the subject is underscored by a slightly hesitant darkness in the boy’s expression and the less than perfect condition of the fruit of sin. This thematic element makes the subject present and vigilant, inciting anxiety and curiosity within the viewer. In many ways, this is Taylor’s signature.
Other works like Self Portrait with Grave Goods, in which the disheveled, shoeless painter peers at the viewer through a magnifying glass, or Couple with a Lamp Alice and Clive, in which a solemn-looking husband looks on as his bald wife focuses on a typewriter with a bowl of cigarettes at her side, maintain a tension that draws the viewer into the scene as one attempts to piece together the present and future moments.