new-york

David Salle

Leo Castelli Gallery

Even more completely than before, this group of paintings by David Salle is about the body, or about body parts, to be accurate, thus raising the ante of sexual fixation. Accordingly, one of the ancestors Salle latches onto here is Jean Louis Géricault, one of whose specialities was dismembered limbs, decapitated heads, and tableaux of execution. His Heads of Executed Men, ca. 1820, appears in Salle’s Loft Barn Process, 1985. But true to his bloodless pictorial lust, Salle turns severed heads into talking heads. He presents heads, usually male, cut off from bodies, and balanced by female bodies, frequently with heads cropped off or twisted out of sight.

The perversion of Enlightenment ideas into the excesses of the French Revolution is offset in Salle’s work by talking heads minus their revolution. There’s thesis and antithesis, but no synthesis. This is not just a philosophically correct

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