David Salle’s paintings juxtapose images from a variety of sources to startling and often provocative effect. In Sextant in Dogtown (1987) Salle arranges disparate elements within a grid and in a manner evoking film montage, while combing a pastiche of painterly styles and subjects. Here, the act of seeing — or not seeing– becomes a subject in itself. A half-dressed woman, lifted from the artist’s own photography, is shown from different vantage points, her face always obscured. Above her, a cartographer uses an old-fashioned measuring device known as a “sextant.” Confronted with these disjunctive images and with no evident narrative, we are ultimately left to forge connections on our own.
While Salle’s work is frequently associated with the resurgence of figurative paintings in the 1980s, it is also linked closely to that of the Pictures Generation — artists who employed appropriation to explore the relationship between image and consumption.
Photographed as Part of Fast Forward: Painting From The 1980s at the Whitney Museum of Americana Art, on Exhibit Through May 14th, 2017.