Savagery and Misrepresentation
About This Artwork
David Salle takes the device of pastiche, the imitation of an artistic style or period, and makes it both the form and the content of his work. His canvases are populated with dramatic images lifted from sources as varied as Salle’s own photographs, eighteenth- through twentieth-century painting, 1950s print advertising, and how-to-draw manuals. The juxtaposition of these images gives his paintings a charge that captivated the art world in the 1980s. By titling this work Savagery and Misrepresentation, Salle invites interpretation while taunting that any analysis would be inadequate. The painting presents a split personality, a complex accumulation of opposites. Combining disparate depictions of figure studies with the sideshow sign of “Milo the Mule Face Boy” painted over an oceanfront scene, Salle leaves the ultimate meaning of the work uncertain.