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David Salle

(b. 1952)


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(1952– )

American painter, born in Norman, Oklahoma. He studied under John Baldessari at the California Institute of Arts, Valencia. When his painting was first seen widely in the early 1980s it was usually associated with the international Neo-Expressionist tendency and usually coupled with the work of Julian Schnabel. In fact, although the success of his work was part of a general revival of art world interest in painting during this period, the idea of ‘self-expression’ is particularly inappropriate to Salle, who is much closer to the stylistic pluralism of Sigmar Polke to than the deliberate wildness of Georg Baselitz. His paintings combine images from photographs and the history of art in a way that defies, at least for most commentators, any kind of coherent narrative. The best interpretative model is probably the concept of ‘pastiche’ as theorized by Fredric Jameson (see Postmodernism). Byron's Reference to Wellington (1987) draws together a photographically illusionist picture of a young woman holding an outsize crown of thorns from a 17th-century Dutch painting and a scene of erotic dalliance from the 18th century. This is overlaid by other elements, including an image of an ear. Consultation of Byron's Don Juan, in which Wellington is described as ‘the best of cut-throats’, tends to add to the mystery rather than solve it.

Subjects: Art.


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