David Salle - New Now London Thursday, December 8, 2022 | Phillips

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  • “I am not interested in the consistency or the repetition that the art world and the art market and the art commentary runs on […] I’m a very restless person. I get easily bored by repeating myself. The inner gyroscope compels me to keep searching, keep changing. Certain things are happening you don’t have control over.”
    —David Salle

     David Salle’s extremely syncretic and prolific artistic production mixes elements of popular culture with classical art imagery, alternating realistic painting techniques and abstract lines, juxtaposing apparently incoherent objects and subjects to compose endless visual landscapes to give life to a world of deliberately set confusion on canvas. A photographer, painter, printmaker, stage designer and established art writer, Salle’s eclecticism is reflected in his career and interests as much as in his painting style. The American artist was born in 1952 to a family of Russian Jewish immigrants in Norman, Oklahoma, grew up in Kansas, and studied at the California Institute of Arts under the conceptual artist John Baldessari. Over the course of his long career, Salle has incessantly challenged and expanded his creative potential through different forms of media expressions.


    Untitled, a ghostly, mysterious, dream-like piece from 1983, represents the monochromatic figure of a woman – whose features are roughly sketched – standing in between two trees, of which the viewer can only see the trunks and part of the roots. The long, dark shadow that the plants cast on the ground occupies a large area of the painting, giving a perturbing and unsettling ambience to the scene, contrasting with the softness of the soil’s pastel pink tone. On the left side of the painting, as if the rosy background were a curtain which covers another dimension of reality, a galactic sky in various shades of blue further contributes to giving an oneiric and spectral atmosphere to the artwork. The hands of the coral-painted woman reach her head in a pose that is conventionally associated with dread and terror.


    Salvador Dalí, Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet’s Angelus, 1933-1935, Collection of The Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg. Image: Bridgeman Images, Artwork: © Salvador Dali, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí / DACS, London 2022


     The bittersweet, otherworldly atmosphere of Untitled calls to mind Salvador Dalí’s Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet’s Angelus(1933-1935). The shadowy, dreamy, and phantasmal setting of these works stimulates some of the deepest and darkest thoughts of the human mind: in the three pieces, apparently lost and confused human subjects find themselves in the middle of desolate and gloomy landscapes. Untitled beautifully embodies and renders the intensity of these overwhelming feelings of agitation, awakening recondite memories and fears.


    Salle’s oeuvre’s most recent exhibitions include a solo show at the Gladstone Gallery in Brussels and one at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center, in Greenwich held over the course of 2022. Selected among highly acclaimed artists like Jeff Koons, Diane Arbus, and other 32 influential names of the art scene, Salle participated in the exhibition Luncheon on the Grass which was opened in Los Angeles in February 2022.

    • Provenance

      Private Collection
      Acquired from the above by the present owner



signed and dated 'David Salle 84' on the reverse
oil on textile
253.8 x 244 cm (99 7/8 x 96 1/8 in.)
Executed in 1984.

Full Cataloguing

£60,000 - 80,000 

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Gibbs
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now
+44 20 7901 7993


New Now

London Auction 8 December 2022