New York – David Salle at Skarstedt through June 23rd, 2018

May 6th, 2018

Mingus in Mexico (1990). © David Salle, VAGA, NY courtesy of Skarstedt, NY.

Now through June 23, 2018, Skarstedt Gallery presents David Salle: Paintings 1985-1995, a selection of some of the artist’s most significant bodies of work highlighting a particularly prolific and experimental period of Salle’s career. The celebrated master of postmodern composition is known especially for his use of photography and collage in his paintings to deconstruct existing imagery, integrating everything from advertisements to post-war American art into his work, earning his classification among other artists of the ‘70s and ‘80s “Pictures Generation”, whose concerns largely centered on the changing status of the image in the era of mass media.
David Salle (Installation View)

For this exhibition, Salle shows a group of works that are considered some of his most important pieces, and, though created in the same decade, reveal a series of coherences of approach rather than historical moment. Indeed, Salle is frequently described as evading the trappings of historical period and authorship, given his commitment to combine and integrate a range of media and reference points. Though his technique and ideology resists categorization, Salle’s work can be seen to extend the legacies of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, while privileging the composition logic of collage or montage.

Paintings: 1985-1995 contains such works, which reveal Salle’s genius eye for composition and a developing investment in arrangements of forms, as well as historical material and the artist’s own photographs. Mingus in Mexico (1990), for example, is a cacophony of muscle and movements, interspersed with the geometric relief of furniture pieces outlined in blue. The title of this re-creation of a Renaissance tapestry references the death of American jazz musician Charles Mingus in Mexico in 1979, and hums with movement and improvisation. The painting feeds the eye with a constant rhythm of visual cues, which flow in continual motion around and beyond the container of the canvas.
David Salle (Installation View)

In False Queen (1992), music and rhythm again punctuate the viewing experience. The starting point for this painting was a photograph taken by Serge Lido at the Paris Opera in the 1950’s. The lines of music that run across the top of this scene invite an expansion of the visual experience of this painting into the auditory realm. As in many of Salle’s works, the anatomical and photographic are incorporated here as a force of abstraction, serving to render the narrative, melodramatic and theatrical scene painted in the background grotesque and uncanny.

Fooling with your Hair (1985), © David Salle, VAGA, NY courtesy of Skarstedt, NY.

This exhibition brings together some of the most important work of this renowned postmodern artist, shown for the first time in New York. Salle’s use of citation and invention comes through in this collection, and encourage the viewer to expand their experience of viewing beyond the space of the image, to explore the connections and resonances that reach across media and historical circumstance.

— A. Corrigan

Related Links:
Exhibition Page [Skarstedt]
“Five Favorite Artworks” [Interview Magazine]