David Salle (born September 28, 1952; last name pronounced “Sally”) is a Pictures Generation American painter, printmaker, photographer, and stage designer. Salle was born in Norman, Oklahoma, and lives and works in East Hampton, New York. He earned a BFA and MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, where he studied with John Baldessari. Salle’s work first came to public attention in New York in the early 1980s.
David Salle makes large-scale paintings that arrange art historical and pop cultural references into enigmatic compositions. Salle has variously invoked 19th-century paintings, 1950s advertisements, graffiti, cartoons, and his own photographs. He often embraces widely different moods, styles, and sources within a single canvas, and his compositions can alternately invite and reject psychological, associative interpretations. Altogether, Salle’s sophisticated pastiches offer deadpan commentaries on contemporary life. The artist rose to prominence in the 1980s alongside a generation of painters, including Julian Schnabel and Eric Fischl, who were working in a new expressionist mode; yet he’s also associated with Pictures Generation artists such as Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, and Richard Prince, who rethink mass-media imagery and advertisements throughout their practices. Salle has exhibited around the world, and his canvases belong in the collections of the Albertina Museum, the Museo Reina Sofía, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate, and the Stedelijk Museum, among many others. On the secondary market, his work has commanded six-figure prices.