New York

Francis Picabia

Kent Fine Art

A line runs from Francis Picabia through Sigmar Polke to David Salle, indicating decline of significance and dilution of effect. The effect common to the work of all three is one of homeless sexuality—lurid, implicitly perverse, but peculiarly improbable, empty, and mystical in impact. In Polke, the sexuality exists as loosely erotic atmosphere, sustaining whatever happens to be adrift in it; in Salle, as the flotsam and jetsam of tired, conventional signifiers. With Picabia, we have it in full, unfashionable force: the bodily miasma itself, disrupting our inert line of vision, which expects stylized objects.

At the same time—and this is what Polke and Salle have picked up from Picabia, using it superficially, the way a poor Method actor mimicks expressivity without grasping its inner import—there is the manufactured indeterminacy of the picture as a whole, into which nothing fits exactly

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the September 1989 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.