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PRINT February 1987

HARLEQUINADE FOR AN EMPTY ROOM: ON DAVID SALLE

A CLOSE FRIEND OF MINE, a lapsed Midwesterner in New York, once said that he could always detect other Midwesterners, however well camouflaged, however suited they might be to the small patches of sky and tight corners of the Northeast or Europe, by a certain little emptiness holding forth at the core of their being. This is an all-purpose zone of absence. It can work interchangeably and even simultaneously as receiver, transmitter, projector, screen, filter, cushion, and psychological room to spare, one protected by a lock. To put words in my friend’s mouth, it replaces the traditional chiaroscuro of the soul as deep identity of the self, and, he concluded, this metaphysical Midwestern toolshed-cum-screening room equips its hosts beautifully for outside turbulence. The heart of David Salle’s work bears this imprimatur of the prairie. For all their sophistications of surface, their hoops

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