Not many people can craft a snappy sentence, and hardly any more can make a memorable painting. David Salle is one of the rare few who can do both. How welcome, then, is the arrival of his collection of (mainly recent) writings, which offers immensely readable thought pieces on art as seen through a painter’s eyes. The texts assembled in How to See: Looking, Talking, and Thinking About Art (W. W. Norton & Company, 2016) explore subjects as diverse as Piero della Francesca and Karole Armitage, with ruminations on André Derain, Jack Goldstein, and Amy Sillman in between; all evidence Salle’s fundamental commitment to close looking and his talent for describing how an artwork’s constituent forms add up to a convincing statement. A lifetime in the studio gives Salle’s writing, especially on painting, a potent and refreshing confidence. Here one feels the rubber meeting the road.
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