I just finished flipping through this month’s Town & Country and Architectural Digest magazines, the former for the astrology (really), and the latter for the real estate porn. David Salle the painter was prominently featured in both. Not his paintings, but his opinion and reviews of art shows in T&C and his house for sale in AD.
David Salle has an illustrious career that includes a Guggenheim fellowship for stage design, a mid career retrospective at age 34, and a director of feature film gig. No wonder he was able to purchase two four-story townhouses in Brooklyn ten years ago and combine them to make a humongous live work space (his studio is one entire floor of the two buildings combined). Wow. And for a cool $10 million it could be yours!!
I’ve always been attracted to his work from its simplicity – he mashes disparate images together so a third effect can emerge. I do this in my own studio, it’s called a visual analogy. Instead of giant oil paintings though I play with small drawings, objects and/or paintings. His influence to me is clear – he is an ex-student from Cal Arts of John Baldessari, in my opinion the king of visual analogies and 2d puns. Sometimes I wish Salle would edit a little more, he seems lately to be going for baroque in his paintings.
His champagne lifestyle has clearly offered him a cozy seat at the table with T&C editors. I think it’s great the editors are having an artist as reviewer, this will definitely lead to a steady readership, as artists tend to write more comfortably about art in general. No need to twist your brain into knots when reading a review about the latest at the New Museum. Salle’s writing style is very accessible, and let’s hope his choice of shows to review is varied, and not simply giving props to his posse/the usual suspects.
Out of the three shows he reviewed, I am thrilled he reviewed Rosemarie Trockel’s show from last fall at the New Museum. She is an inspiring artist working in a very poetic, organic and incredibly relevant way. If you don’t know a thing about her work, check it out!
As for his review of the Alex Katz shows currently up at galleries in Europe I can only say ok – Katz’s work is admittedly not about content and only about surface, therefore leaving a lot to be desired in my opinion. Though there is still something fun and magical about some of his color mixing.
The third review is about Wade Guyton’s work at the Whitney. Salle compares the show of his work to entering a haberdashery as a young boy. Um. I hope that was just T&C editors inserting their thoughts. He also describes the paintings as “terse and glamorous”. If you are following this blog, you know how I feel about Guyton’s paintings and I think I would use words like cold and clinical, and like walking into a Staples store with paint smears.
Lastly, I loved how Salle opened his first column by reminding the reader of the critic Fairfield Porter quote from 1958:
A genuine and ordinary reaction to paintings and sculpture, like one’s first impression of a new person, is actually very much to the point.
When I ran a gallery and tried to break down the barriers for people in the contemporary art zone, I would remind them of this same notion – the works of art are like people, you either like them or you don’t. It’s about trusting your intuition. I’m pretty sure Salle confused the real people at the opening of Guyton’s show as terse and glamorous, but not truly his paintings.
Congratulations on the new columnist position David Salle, it’s truly exciting! And we look forward to seeing your new abode!