"Ham and Cheese and Other Paintings"
New York, 20 East 79th Street
David Salle—the celebrated master of postmodern painting who, for the past 40 years, has deconstructed the image by embracing the performative, as well as the cinematic aspects of his medium.
The new works have never been seen in the U.S., and showcase an evolution that expands his vision of American surrealism. In 1993, Salle created his Early Product Paintings, which featured the artist’s improvised interventions on painted backgrounds of collaged advertisements. The new works return to that territory. The images—cars, edibles, cigarettes, shoes—may literally have come from 1960s advertisements, but more likely came from a certain part of our American minds. The painting over and alongside of them embraces new materials like Flashe, a French matte paint, that brings a new depth of color to Salle’s palate, alongside new techniques like frottage. Long recognized as a superb and innovative colorist, Salle in these new paintings takes his color to another, more emotive level. In these paintings overall, we see both a greater freedom, at times even a letting go, and an even stronger sense of compositional organization than in the past. Salle's signature, expressive line returns, becoming a space within the painting itself. In addition, the new works play imagistically in the world of Max Beckmann and Marsden Hartley, among others.
"There's a piece of a Chevy seen from the back, magically merging with the torso of a woman in a bathing suit, and you can't figure out how it works spatially, but they seem perfectly companionable," Salle said. "It's like the Magritte painting I’ve always wanted to see."
The period of the 1980s in which Salle rose to prominence was hailed as the return of painting, as Salle and cohorts like Julian Schnabel, Ross Bleckner, and Eric Fischl became household names. Salle, who in the same period was also seen as part of the “Pictures Generation”, distinguished himself by making work that pleasantly overwhelmed the viewer with image fields which were dense, sensuous and invitingly intellectual. As a bridge between the warring rulers in decline, Abstract Expressionism and Pop, Salle seemed to bear no grudges against either. His work can be found in the collections of many of the world’s major museums, such as the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Stedelijk Museum, the Tate Modern, the Walker Art Center, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, which in 1987, honored Salle, at age 34, with the youngest mid-career survey ever. When the museum opened its new building last year his Splinter Man (1982) was featured prominently in the debut, collection show "America Is Hard to See."
Ham Cheese and Other Paintings runs through October 28.