Current Exhibition

  • David Salle

David Salle

Greenwich November 16th to April 1st, 2022

Book a Tour
  • Installation view
  • Installation view
  • Installation view

Yet Salle’s art is no mere exercise in formalism with unmediated imagery. It is rooted in personal experiences with consumer visual language and the challenge of absorbing that language back into art. Indeed, the ‘subject’ of Salle’s paintings might be said to be presentation itself. His paintings foreground the visual mechanisms and agreements, often unconscious, by which we come to recognize an image in the first place. Salle grew up in Cold War America, and some of his first experiences with image making came as a boy when he assisted his father, a buyer and salesman at a clothing store, with the window displays as well as the layout and design for ads in the local newspaper. Salle’s father also served as a photographer during World War II, and, in the late 1950s, taught his son photographic techniques using darkroom equipment courtesy of the US Army. Salle’s father gave him the Rolleiflex camera that he used in service, and together they set up a portrait studio in the basement of their suburban home. By the age of 8, Salle was making studio portraits of his friends, using the conventions of “glamour” lighting such as it was practiced at the time. At age 9, Salle began formal art training with a local artist and teacher, a course of study that included color theory, composition, and drawing from the nude model. This early experience of the intimacy of the photographer/subject, or artist/model, relationship would become a consistent theme in Salle’s mature work.

Salle notes: “From an early age, I was involved in the language of moving rectangles around and creating an image supported by type. That was the ad page. The other thing was directing models to make some idealized or arresting image, using light and shadow to create form. And then there was window display – a large illuminated rectangle, as a kind of stage. The idea was to create something that can be glimpsed in passing that also invites prolonged looking.”

At age 17 Salle went on to study with John Baldessari at the California Institute of the Arts and became an early participant in the critical practice known as Conceptual Art. After graduation, Salle came to New York, eventually rising to prominence in the late 70s as part of the “Pictures Generation.” But unlike his cohorts, Salle’s work can also be viewed through a Surrealist lens; the nature of juxtaposition itself, the often-irrational connections between apparently unlike things, became one of his most original contributions. “My work is against literal-mindedness in all its forms,” says the artist. Salle’s work essentially trusts the viewer to participate in the construction of narrative meaning. Salle also differed from his “Pictures” peers through painting itself. With his chosen medium of painting, in all its specificity and immediacy, Salle’s work speaks to the ways in which public images are used to create private meanings. “My generation was trying to get at the deep structures underlying certain pictorial conventions, and to take that understanding to a kind of exploded image,” says Salle.

More than any other contemporary artist, Salle also brought the language of cinema to painting. Split screen, lap-dissolve, a frame within a frame, extreme close-ups alternated with wide angle views – his paintings abound with painterly equivalencies to the techniques of cinematic editing. What Salle ultimately achieved, and what this exhibition demonstrates, was to join all these disparate influences and traditions together into a flexible, expansive painterly language. It is the artist’s mastery of pictorial space, honed over 40 years, that makes his paintings so recognizable and distinctive. Though adept at art historical as well as social commentary, the uses of irony, etc., Salle’s aim has always been to create an experience transcendent in nature. As the artist has stated in numerous interviews over the years, “I wasn’t so much trying to be provocative; I thought I was making a new kind of beauty.”

The exhibition includes key paintings spanning the artist’s entire career, representing many notable series such as the “Smoking Women” series from 1979; the grisaille diptychs and triptychs of the 80s, many of which feature unusually intimate collaborations with female models; the “Tapestry Paintings” of the late 80s and early 90s; the “Ballet Paintings” (1992); the “Early Product Paintings” and “Ghost Paintings” (1994); the Pastoral Paintings of the late 1990s and early 2000s; and the later “Tapestry and Battle Paintings” (2012-2013). The exhibition will also feature a selection of seldom-seen smaller-scale paintings and works on paper, which feature a more lyrical side of the artist’s sensibility.

While much of Salle’s visual language reflects the world he grew up in during the 50s and 60s – the ubiquity of advertising images and rise of photography as a marker of meaning – his identity as a painter, with his insistence on the primacy of overall composition, as well as on improvisation and spontaneity, aligns him with art before the age of Pop. Although there has been considerable evolution and variation in Salle’s long career (few artists have so consistently pushed against the idea of a signature style), his work, with its unexpected, poetical juxtapositions continues to speak, now more than ever, to the intense pace and fragmentation, as well as the ambiguity and complexity, of the onrushing visual flow of the digital age.

Join in the conversation with The Brant Foundation on Instagram via @TheBrantFoundation.

1 Deborah Solomon, “Reading David Salle,” in David Salle: Paintings 1985-1995 (exhibition catalogue) (New York: Skarstedt Gallery, 2018), p. 11.

Artist Biography

David Salle

David Salle

In 1970, David Salle entered the California Institute of the Arts as part of its “foundational class”, where he studied with John Baldessari. (BFA 1973, MFA 1975). He was an early member of the “Pictures Generation,” whose work was revisited in an exhibition of the same title at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 2009. Salle’s work can be found in the collections of many international museums, such as the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Stedelijk Museum, the Tate, the Walker Art Center, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, the latter of which in 1987, honored Salle, at age 34, with the youngest mid-career survey ever. Salle is also a prolific writer on art. “How to See,” a volume of his collected essays was published by W.W. Norton in 2016. His essays and reviews have been published in Artforum, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Art in America, and The Paris Review. Salle was for some years the art critic for Town & Country, and is now a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books.



Musicality and Humour, Skarstedt, London


David Salle: Paintings 1985 - 1995, Skarstedt, New York


David Salle: Ham and Cheese and Other Paintings, Skarstedt, New York


David Salle: New Paintings, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, France


David Salle: Inspired by True-Life Events, CAC Málaga, Málaga, Spain


David Salle, Skarstedt, New York, USA.Debris. Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, USA.


Maureen Paley, London, UK.Collage, Mendes Wood D, São Paulo, Brazil.


Ghost Paintings, Skarstedt Gallery, New York, USA.David Salle/ Francis Picabia, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, France.David Salle: Ghost Paintings, The Arts Club, Chicago, USA.Tapestries/ Battles/ Allegories, Lever House Art Collection, New York.Leeahn Gallery, Daegu, South Korea.Leeahn Gallery, Seoul, South Korea.


Gerhardsen Gerner, Berlin, Germany.Ariel and Other Spirits, The Arnold and Marie Schwartz Gallery Met, MetropolitanOpera House, Lincoln Center, New York, USA


David Salle Recent Paintings, Mary Boone Gallery, New York, USA.Maureen Paley, London, UK.


Mary Boone Gallery, New York, USA.


Héritage du Pop Art, Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover, Germany.


Galleri Faurschou, Copenhagen, Denmark.Studio d’Arte Raffaelli, Trento, Italy.


Galleria Cardi, Milan, Italy.David Salle, New Works, Galerie Thaddeaus Ropac, Salzburg, Austria.Bearding The Lion In His Den, Deitch Projects, New York, USA.David Salle : 1,2,3,4, Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, USA.


Mary Boone Gallery, New York, USA


Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, France.David Salle: Split Worlds. The Montage Principle, Stella Art Gallery, Moscow,Russia.Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, USA.


Mary Boone Gallery, New York, USA.Waddington Galleries, London, UK.Emilio Mazzoli Galleria D’Arte Contemporanea, Modena, Italy.


Galleria Cardi, Milan, Italy.Lehmann Maupin, New York, USA.


Gagosian Gallery, New York, USA.Jablonka Galerie, Cologne, Germany.


Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, A.C., Monterrey, Mexico.


Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York, USA.Gagosian Gallery, New York, USA.Retrospective, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.Traveled to Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Austria; Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy; Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao,Spain.


Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, USA.Itochu Gallery, Tokyo, Japan.


Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, USA.Claudia Gian Ferrari Arte Contemporanea, Milan, Italy.


Galerie Soledad Lorenzo, Madrid, Spain.Galerie Thaddeus Ropac, Paris, France.


Galerie Bischofberger, Zurich, Germany.Gagosian Gallery, New York, USA.


Gagosian Gallery, New York, USA.Mary Boone Gallery, New York, USA


Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, USA.


Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris, France.Gagosian Gallery, New York, USA.Galeria Soledad Lorenzo, Madrid, Spain.Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, The Netherlands.


Gagosian Gallery, New York, USA.Robert Miller Gallery, New York, USA. Galerie Bischofberger, Zurich, Germany.


Mario Diacono Gallery, Boston, USA.Fred Hoffman Gallery, Santa Monica, USA.Castelli Graphics, New York, USA.


Waddington Galleries, London, UK.Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne, Germany.Bayerische Staatsgemaldesammlungen Munchen, Munich, West Germany.The Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel.


Castelli Gallery, New York, USA. (with Jasper Johns and Bruce Naumann)Mary Boone/Michael Werner Gallery, New York, USA.The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas, USA.Fundacion Caja de Pensiones, Madrid, Spain.Traveled to: Staatsgalerie Modern Kunst, Munich;The Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel.Galerie Bischofberger, Zurich, Germany


Mary Boone Gallery, New York, USA.The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland.Galerie Bischofberger, Zurich, Switzerland.Spiral Garden, Wacoal Art Center, Tokyo, Japan


Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, USA.Mario Diacono Gallery, Boston, USA.Castelli Graphics, New York, USA.Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund, Germany.Traveled to: Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark;The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, USA.Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.Traveled to: The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA.Galerie Bischofberger, Zurich, Switzerland.


Texas Gallery, Houston, USA.Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris, France.Mary Boone Gallery, New York, USA.Donald Young Gallery, Chicago, USA.Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA.Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne, Germany.


Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, USA.Mario Diacono Gallery, Rome, Italy.Galerie Bischofberger, Zurich, Switzerland


Akira Ikeda Gallery, Tokyo, Japan.Mary Boone Gallery, New York, USA.Galerie Schellmann & Kluser, Munich, Germany. (with Francis Picabia)Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles, USA.


Mary Boone Gallery, New York, USA.Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, USA.Galerie Bischofberger, Zurich, Switzerland.Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London, UK.


Mary Boone Gallery, New York, USA.Larry Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles, USA.Lucio Amelio Gallery, Naples, Italy


Galerie Bischofberger, Zurich, Switzerland.


Gagosian/Nosei Webber, New York, USA.



At First Glance: Fischl Sculptures and Salle Photographs, Skarstedt, New York


Every Picture Tells a Story, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY
Running Wild, The Arts Club, London


Third Space /shifting conversations about contemporary art, Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama


Condo, de Kooning, Kippenberger, Muñoz, Salle, Warhol, Skarstedt Gallery,
London, UK.

Body Superficial, Sgorbati Projects, New York, NYC.

Nice Weather, cur. David Salle, Skarstedt Gallery, New York, NYC.

Condo, Gonzalez-Torres, Kelley, Prince, Salle, Sherman, Trockel, Wool, Skarstedt Gallery, New York, USA.


Winter Group Show, Skarstedt Gallery, London, UK.

America Is Hard to See, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA.

Matters of Pattern, Skarstedt Chelsea, New York, USA.

Future Seasons Past, cur. Manuel E. Gonzalez, Lehmann Maupin, New York.

GHP Amer, Baga, Cameron, Greenbaum, Lins, Mackler, Salle, Jane Harstook Gallery at Greenwich House Pottery, New York, USA.

Making Art Dance: Backdrops and Costumes from the Armitage Foundation, cur. Jeffrey Deitch, Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, USA.

Summer Exhibition, Skarstedt Gallery, New York, USA.


Urban Theater: New York Art in the 1980’s, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth,
Fort Worth, USA.

Feats of Clay, Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, USA.

Absent Friends, cur. Paul Schrader, Monya Rowe Gallery, New York, USA.

Disturbing Innocence, cur. Eric Fishl, The Flag Art Foundation, New York, USA.

Everyday Epiphanies: Photography and Daily Life Since 1969, cur. Doug Eklund,
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.

Inaugural Exhibition, Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, China.

Rauschenberg: Collecting and Connecting, Nasher Museum, Duke University, Durham, USA.

Beg, Borrow, Steal, Medical Facilities of America Gallery/Temporary Exhibitions Gallery and The Media Lab, Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, USA.

Modernism from the National Gallery of Art: The Robert & Jane Meyerhoff
Collection, de Young Museum, San Francisco, USA.

Summer Exhibition, Skarstedt Gallery, New York, USA.

George Condo, Albert Oehlen, David Salle, Thomas Schütte and Cindy Sherman,
Skarstedt Gallery, New York, USA.

Variations in Abstraction, Skarstedt Gallery, New York, USA.

To Have and to Hold, The Rubell Family Collection, Miami, Florida


Girls can tell, GAK, Bremen, Germany.

Meshes of the Afternoon, Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, USA.

DSM-V, The Future Moynihan Station, New York, USA. (Curated by David
Rimanelli and presented by Vito Schnabel).


Spring Fever, Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York, USA.

This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, Museum of Contemporary
Art, Chicago, Illinois; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Institute of Contemporary
Art, Boston, USA.

The Brucennial 2012, Bruce High Quality Foundation, New York, USA.

Daum 10! The First Decade, Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, USA.

Contemporary Painting, 1960 to the Present: Selections from the SFMOMA
Collection, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA.


Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981, The Museum of Contemporary
Art, Los Angeles, USA.

Pop Art 1960’s-2000’s from Misumi Collection, Kawaguchiko Museum of Art,
Yamansashi Prefecture, Japan.

Distant Star, Regen Projects, Los Angeles, USA.

Distant Star/Estrella Distante, Kurimanzutto, Mexico City, Mexico.

Les Fleurs du Mal, Munich Modern, Munich, Germany.

America: Now and Here, cross-country traveling exhibition.


Calder to Warhol: Introducing the Fisher Collection, San Francisco Museum
Modern Art, San Francisco, USA.

Brucennial 2010: Miseducation, The Bruce High Quality Foundation, New York, USA.

Your History is Not Our History, Haunch of Venison, New York, USA. (curated by
David Salle and Richard Phillips).

Pastiche, The Pace Gallery, New York, USA.

Re-Dressing, Bortolami Gallery, New York, USA.

Songs for Sale: Robert Rauschenberg/David Salle/Michael Bevilacqua, Faurschou
Beijing, Beijing, China.


Remembering Henry's Show, The Brant Foundation, Greenwich, CT

The Pictures Generation, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA


Passioniert Provokativ Die Sammlung Stoffel, Pinakothek Der Moderne, Munich,

Broad Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA, Los Angeles County, USA.

Museum of Art, Los Angeles, USA.


Not for Sale, P.S. 1 MoMA Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York,


Damien Hirst, David Salle, Jenny Saville The Bilotti Chapel, The Bilotti Chapel, Museo Carlo Bilotti, Rome, Italy.


Contemporary Voices: Works from the UBS Art Collection, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA.


Mythic Proportions:Painting in the 1980's, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, USA.

Jasper Johns to Jeff Koons: Four Decades of Art from the Broad Collection, Los
Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, USA.


Around 1984: A Look at Art in the Eighties, PS1, New York, USA


The American Century: Art & Culture, 1900-2000 Part 2, Whitney Museum of
American Art, New York, USA.

The First View, Sammlung Essl, Vienna, Austria.


Contemporary Art: The Janet Wolfson de Botton Gift, Tate Gallery, London, UK.

Young Americans 2, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK.


The Robert and Jane Meyehoff Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., USA.


American Photography 1890-1965, The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy.

The Portrait Now, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK


Allegories of Modernism, Contemporary Drawing, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA. Curated by Bernice Rose.


1991 Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA


Bilderstreit: Widerspruch, Einheit und Fragment in der Kunst seit 1960, Rheinhalle,
Cologne, Germany.

Image World: Art and Media Culture, Whitney Museum of American Art, New
York, USA.

High and Low: Modern and Popular Culture, Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA.


Europe/America, Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany.

Prospect 86, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany.

Avant Garde in the Eighties, Los Angeles County Art Museum, Los Angeles, USA.

L'epoque, la morale, la passion, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France.


An American Renaissance, Painting and Sculpture Since 1940, Museum of Art,
Fort Lauderdale, USA.

Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.

Barry Lowen Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, USA


Polke, Salle, Clemente, Contemporary Art Gallery, Seibu Department Store, Tokyo, Japan.

Overture, Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy.

Carnegie International, Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, USA.

The Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA.

XIII Biennale de Paris, Grande Halle du Parc de la Villette, Paris, France.


An International Survey of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture, Museum of
Modern Art, New York, USA.

The Heroic Figure, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston.
Travelled to Memphis
Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis; Alexandria Museum of Art, Louisiana;
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, USA.

Content, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, USA.

The Human Condition: SFMMA Biennial III, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art,
San Francisco, USA.


Directions 1983, The Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C., USA.

1983 Biennial Exhibition, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA.

New York Now, Kunstverin fur die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Germany.

New Art, The Tate Gallery, London, UK.

Tendencias en Nueva York, Crystal Palace, Madrid, Spain.

Sao Paulo Biennale, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Back to the USA, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland.


Dokumenta 7, Kassel, Germany.

Clemente, Kiefer, Salle, Schnabel: New Paintings, Anthony d'Offay Gallery,
London, UK.

74th American Exhibition, The Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, USA.

Zeitgeist, Internationale Kunstausstellung, Berlin, Germany.

Focus on the Figure: Twenty Years, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New
York, USA. Brochure by Barbara Haskell.

Eight Artists: The Anxious Edge, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA.

Art and the Media, Renaissance Society, Chicago, USA.

The Americans: Collage 1950-1982, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, USA.

Avanguardia Transavanguardia, Gallerie Civica, Modena, Italy.

Body Language, Fort Worth Art Museum, Fort Worth, USA.

New York Now, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover, Germany.

Image Scavengers: Painting, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.
Catalogue by Janet Kardon.

Venice Biennale, Aperto, Venice, Italy.


Young Americans, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Oberlin, USA.

Westkunst: Heute, Cologne, Germany.

U.S. Art Now, Goteborgs Konstmuseum, Goteborg, Sweden.

Watch Now

David Salle on the Experience of Art

Conversations with Tyler

David Salle on the Experience of Art (Ep. 135)
Why, the artist wonders, can’t we just have more fun with it?