Americanist art history professor at the University of Chicago 1960-1974, and director, National Museum of American Art, 1970-1981. Taylor was the son of James Edmond and Anna L. M. Scott (Taylor). He attended the Portland Museum art school before entering Reed College, where he received his degree in 1939. He initially worked as a designer for ballet and theatre groups including the San Francisco Opera Ballet. He also taught at his alma mater. After World War II was declared Taylor joined the U.S. Army infantry, fighting in the European Theater and rising to the rank of major.