The New Yorker

AT THE GALLERIES

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The Pictures Generation painter David Salle is the beau ideal of a postmodern­ist who blurs the lines between high and low. High is inspiring a poem by a cosmopolit­an bard (“A Dip in David Salle’s Pool,” by Frederick Seidel); low is a line of luxury swim trunks (by Orlebar Brown) printed with his paintings’ motifs. In 1984, when the artist was a thirty-one-yearold enfant terrible, he exhibited paintings with the legendary Leo Castelli, juggling literary and art-historical allusions, provocativ­e images of female nudes, and incongruou­s depictions of food. As this magazine’s art critic wrote at the time, “A viewer can leave this show almost as excited about Salle’s future work as about the work he has just seen. After that chop and those biscuits, you may think, God, what will he do with a tree?” Salle answers that question in his new show at the Skarstedt gallery (on view through Oct. 30), using trees as bifurcatin­g devices in the foreground­s of twenty-two pictures (including the eight-foot-high “Tree of Life #14,” above). The paintings borrow their antic cast of anachronis­tic characters from the cartoons of Peter Arno, whom Harold Ross once described as the “pathfinder artist” of The New Yorker.—Andrea K. Scott

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