David Salle (b. 1952)
Please note that at our discretion some lots may b… Read more
David Salle (b. 1952)

Homage To Richard

David Salle (b. 1952)
Homage To Richard
signed, titled and dated 'David Salle "Homage to Richard" 1996' (on the reverse)
oil, acrylic and photosensitized linen on canvas
96 x 144in. (244 x 366cm.)
Executed in 1996
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris.
Gagosian Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1999.
London, Saatchi Gallery, Young Americans 2: New American Art at the Saatchi Gallery, 1998 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
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Paola Saracino Fendi
Paola Saracino Fendi

Lot Essay

A zeitgeist figure in contemporary art’s triumphant return to painting in the 1980s, David Salle
is famed for a century-hopping postmodern approach which mingles and juxtaposes a variety
of imagery – art-historical quotation, advertising appropriation, abstract intrusions, consumer
objects, and nude figures – in vivid, cacophonous tableaux. His layering method recalls the
‘transparencies’ of Francis Picabia and the hallucinogenic experiments of Sigmar Polke as
much as it anticipates the kaleidoscopic, fragmented pictorial worlds of ‘post-Internet’ art
production today. The diptych Homage to Richard (1996) spans over 3.5 metres in width, and
draws from a typically eclectic array of sources. In the left-hand panel, the cover of the August
1950 issue of House Beautiful magazine is overlaid with colourful snatches of dialogue from
Eddie Goes To Poetry City, a play by the avant-garde director and playwright Richard Foreman,
with whom Salle collaborated in the 1980s. Two rifts of white and blue decorative pattern are
formally echoed by a pair of what look like bronze sculptures: a bird, and some draped fabric
adorned with an eye. Below, a ruff or elaborate collar hovers translucently atop a mid-century
cartoon strip executed in ghostly blue line. An inset canvas panel holds a black-and-white
photograph of a playfully Art Brut crowd of figures, formed of pebbles adorned with childlike
faces and bodies. In the diptych’s right-hand zone, we see a different mode of image within
image. A nude woman, painted in monochrome on a black background, holds a small painting
– a portrait by Alex Katz of his son Vincent, which is in Salle’s personal collection – in front
of her torso. She has a faraway look on her face, and a luminous human silhouette, taken
from the cover of Charles Mingus’ 1956 jazz album Pithecanthropus Erectus, hovers in blue
and tan at her shoulder. A frequently overlooked element of Salle’s paintings is that their
nudes are less often derived from found imagery than from carefully posed photographs
of live models taken in the artist’s studio. This choreographed level of mediation literally
frames the nude through a contemporary lens; painted and placed in the disorienting context
of A Homage to Richard, the image’s crisp modernity troubles the notion of the nude as a
timeless art-historical subject. Salle often employs diptychs, triptychs and inset photographic
panels, which seem to propose pairings or contrasts within his compositions. In A Homage
to Richard, as in all of his works, any such links remain tantalisingly open and unresolved.
Richard Foreman’s ‘trademark “total theatre” unites elements of the performative, auditory and
visual arts, philosophy, psychoanalysis and literature for a unique result ... He seeks to make
work that unsettles and disorients received ideas and opens the doors for alternative models
of perception, organization, and understanding’. In his homage, Salle likewise stages a rich
drama of divergence, dissonance and dislocation, offering no answers but a monumental and
captivating spectacle.

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