David Salle. Muscular Paper. 1985

David Salle Muscular Paper 1985

  • Not on view

The left panel of Muscular Paper depicts a photograph by French photographer Brassaï of Pablo Picasso’s 1931 sculpture Bather. The center panel includes a doubled likeness of a head from the painting The Club-Footed Boy (1642), by Spanish painter Jusepe de Ribera, and the right panel replicates a bridge from a print by the German Expressionist artist Max Beckmann. Superimposed on these explicit references are nonspecific and seemingly unrelated images and patterns, which compete for prominence and suggest multiple and shifting meanings. Salle has claimed independence for his art from the system of logic that governs the real: “I do think that there are things that exist in the world that relate to one another. And then there are things in my paintings that relate to one another. And I think what matters to me is that these are not the same.”

Gallery label from 2013.
Additional text

Salle's diptychs and triptychs of the 1980s brought figurative painting back to the forefront of artistic practice, challenging the dominance of abstraction and sculpture secured by the previous generation. But despite the narrative possibilities for figuration and the heroic implications of Salle's large-scale formats, his paintings frustrate expectations for coherent meaning or grand gesture.

Salle incorporates imagery from art history, the popular press, and pornography into his work in a personal articulation of the postmodern technique of pastiche. The left panel of Muscular Paper depicts a photograph by Brassaï of Pablo Picasso’s 1931 sculpture Bather. The center panel includes a doubled likeness of a head from the painting The Club-Footed Boy (1642) by Jusepe de Ribera, and the right panel replicates a bridge from a print by the German Expressionist artist Max Beckmann. Superimposed on these explicit references are nonspecific and seemingly unrelated images and patterns, which compete for prominence and suggest multiple and shifting meanings. Salle has claimed independence for his art from the system of logic that governs the real: "I do think that there are things that exist in the world that relate to one another. And then there are things in my paintings that relate to one another. And I think what matters to me is that these are not the same."

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 42.
Medium
Oil, synthetic polymer paint, and charcoal on canvas and fabric, with painted wood, in three parts
Dimensions
Overall 8' 2 1/8" x 15' 7 1/8" (249.3 x 475 cm)
Credit
Gift of Douglas S. Cramer Foundation
Object number
373.1991.a-c
Copyright
© 2022 David Salle
Department
Painting and Sculpture

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