New York

David Salle

Gagosian Gallery

Twenty years ago (my God!), when painting and postmodernism met in their unlikely romance, it was David Salle who played Friar Lawrence. As painting was regaining a respectability and a prominence it had lacked for over a decade, the clear intelligence of Salle’s work, and the neatness with which it lent itself to a new theoretical vocabulary of appropriation and the simulacrum, made him stand out. Of late, though, most anyone writing about Salle begins with the waning of his reputation in the ’90s. Salle’s painting has certainly lost its early bravura nerviness; given the critical apparatus that surrounded it two decades ago, as well as its attitudinal chiliness and the particular cerebral quality of its macho swagger, we might forget the jazziness of its juxtapositions, with its plaids and patterns, its cartoon figures, and its combinations of photographic passages and loose drawing.

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