Wednesday, July 29, 2009

David Salle ~ A Pastiche ... Sestina, Contemporary Art and Photoshop

Initially my plan was to write about sestinas on this final day of David Salle here at Fifty Two Pieces. Then I came across a post entitled "What is Contemporary Art?" on The Blog of Innocence and knew I had to include that. And since I was making my own pastiche I'm also including Salle's Sailor from a show entitled "Distance from Nowhere" at Kestnergescellschaft in Hannover, Germany ending in June of this year.

Earlier this week I wrote about David Salle's Sestina. Salle is known for his appropriating images from elsewhere to include in his work. He also is a reader of literature and poetry so it's not surprising that he would be aware of the sestina, a complex poetic form from the 12th century French court. It has 39 lines, six sextets and one tercet. and uses the format shown below. For those of you who want to try your hand at this form of poetry click here for one of the many web sites that explain the method.

"What is Contemporary Art?" 
That's a question that can generate pages of answers on the internet, in magazines and doctoral theses. Lethe Bashar tackles that question in his article on The Blog of Innocence. Bashar's starting off point was an answer Cory Doctorow had given to that question.
I believe that from the artist’s perspective, today’s art must presuppose copying. If you are making art that you expect people not to copy, then you are not making contemporary art.

It's quite an insightful article discussing this age of re-mix and collage. Bashar ends with this concluding paragraph. He could easily have been writing about Salle's work for the last 25 years.
Contemporary art revels in the spaces in between. In between materials, styles, stories, histories, and techniques. Contemporary art is the art of perpetual discovery, an art without a destination, only entry points and possibilities. And if it is true what Corey Doctorow says about today’s art presupposing copying, then it is only because copying is merely a first step towards something greater and less recognizable.

Salle's Pastel is our piece of the week and is a good example of some of his work in the 80's. Appropriated figures used in his own fashion with other elements and as was often the case multiple panels. Sestina, as was mentioned earlier this week, was painted in 2002 and has a gentler approach to the imaging of the naked female form, perhaps more stylized and generally brighter in theme and appearance. "An exhortation to be happy" to quote Salle.


Sailor continues in the theme of appropriation. This time Salle has used Photoshop to manipulate other's images and then added his own in between, his own discovery of new possibilities. He's also affixed a small sailboat on wooden shelf near the image of the partially clothed woman. Painted in 2007 I see is a mellower Salle who is still pushing happiness.

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