David Salle


  • “The most convincing works tend to be those in which the thinking is inseparable from the doing.”

    –David Salle​ 1


    Over the course of several months in 2019, David Salle worked at Pace Editions on a series of unique monotypes, a process that mirrors the act of painting by allowing the artist to apply inks directly to a plate before the image is transferred to paper in the press.

    To Salle, creating monotypes was immediate and intuitive: painting freehand onto plates, the artist worked as though he was in his own studio, with the added tools of printmaking. With the help of master printers Justin Israels and Sarah Carpenter, Salle was able to explore the possibilities of this medium. He felt that monotypes are much closer to making a painting and then printing a painting.


  • “There is a freshness within the monotypes that I really like, and it wouldn’t have been possible to achieve in any other way. They are printed quickly, one run through the press, and so on—nothing was belabored, everything was laid down and left there—they communicate immediacy.” 

  • “David worked extremely fast. We had numerous matrices in rotation and every change in the process was to encourage a greater degree of immediacy. Everything we did as printers streamlined the process for David, removing the thinking from the doing.”

    –Justin Israels

  • “The human face is a visual idea worth exploring. I am interested in the problem of how do you paint a face today—in today’s approach to materiality and representation, and what I know about painting over time—how to approach the idea of portraiture in a way that makes sense.”


    Salle's use of the portrait overlayed on the flower is a distillation of the artist's project as a painter who constructs his works not for narrative, but for composition.  The layering of found and repurposed imagery is something famed pop artist Roy Lichtenstein noted, comparing Salle’s images to his own in that they are quoted from the past, from Titian and newspapers, because each has a different meaning, and when you put them together, they kind of talk to one another… In Salle's work, the quotations set up a kind of vibration… He was the first to use blatantly different styles. The interesting thing is his use of inconsistent styles in the same way you might have contrasts in color and texture. Of course, this could have made for very bad art, but he does it so that it looks exactly right in the paintings2


  • “The part of the fun and risk is not knowing how the flower would impact the face and vice versa. They were not literally planned together—in the vicinity of each other— but the specificity of where they land on the press—that was what determined the success of the print.”


    “The ideas with staying power are those that intersect with an artist’s inclination for form, causing it to deepen and expand, like a paper flower that blooms when you put it in water.” 3