David Salle studied painting at the California Institute for the Arts under another artist who has worked at Crown Point Press, John Baldessari. He became famous in the early 1980’s for scandalous paintings in a style that can almost be termed crude and his resulting public arguments with those who called the work cynical, calculating and cold. Since then, he has become known as one of the most influential representational painters of the latter half of the 20th century.
Salle’s 1988 color woodcut for Crown Point Press is titled Portrait with Scissors and Nightclub. It shows a woman leaning forward at a table, head in her hand, holding an open pair of scissors, her image juxtaposed with a scene from a nightclub. The nightclub itself is not so much a background as another object, seemingly unrelated to the woman with the scissors. Like accidental multiple exposures on a camera, the juxtaposition is unexplained and mysterious: it could be simply a coincidence that the scissors encase two faces of men in the club. On the other hand, as we know the combination was no accident, we are left to wonder about the relationship of the woman to the club scene. Is she daydreaming or plotting? Are the guests aware of her or not? Salle’s signature jumbling of unrelated images can be unsettling: while their union can make each mean something new, more often it keeps both from meaning anything.
David Salle has shown extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe, including solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada; the Institute for Contemporary Art; Philadelphia; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Salle was born in 1952 in Norman, Oklahoma. He lives and works in Sagaponack, NY, and is represented in Los Angeles by Gagosian Gallery and in New York by Lehmann Maupin.
-Rachel Lyon, Crown Point Press