new-york

David Salle

Gagosian Gallery

For much of the mid ’80s the art establishment was held in thrall to David Salle’s addictive brand of bad-boy defiance, which courted misogyny and cynicism in the name of esthetic liberty. No one could top Salle as the artist responsible for the largest number of art-world dinner parties reduced to out-and-out shouting matches. In keeping with the moment, a streak of opportunism a mile wide ran through his project, one that was less a Warholian gesture than a sparring match with Julian Schnabel, Salle’s erstwhile competitor for most all-consuming art-world ego. I'll admit it now, I’ve always felt a little guilty for loving Salle’s ambivalence and yet at the time it all seemed to make sense as a kind of anticriticality disguised as deconstructivist mischief.

Somewhere along the way, as it invariably does, the air went out of Salle’s will to play the heavy. Brattiness doesn’t last, a little

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