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Salle’s New Scenes

NEW YORK — David Salle insists he’s not being coy when he claims he knows nothing about the way the art market functions."I honestly know very little about the art world," he says, adding, "It seems to be quite large. There can be...

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Salle, along with artists Julian Schnabel and Fischl, is closely tied to the Eighties scene, when the art world went into overdrive, fueled by the heady stock market. Boone, who represented Salle, Schnabel and Jean-Michel Basquiat, has been criticized for having overhyped the neo-Expressionist artists, and for allegedly pushing them to release inferior works to keep up with the demand. Boone says she doesn’t want to talk about past history, while Salle says he never experienced that.

"That’s one of the unfortunate things people say that doesn’t have any basis in reality," he explains. "You can always find someone to say something discouraging about an art dealer. That doesn’t have anything to do with the role they play in an artist’s life."

As for his Eighties legacy, Salle has nothing to regret. "One can’t escape one’s time or the time in which one appears on the scene," says Salle. "I don’t see any need to escape it, nor do I have any desire to. That’s part of how the art world makes distinctions, in terms of decades. The longer that you work and the more time you have to evolve, the less those distinctions seem to matter. I certainly hope I can transcend that."

Contributing to the frenzy over Salle’s early work was a midcareer survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1986. Salle seems uncomfortable with the term "midcareer." "I was 34 years old," he says. "I’ve had subsequent surveys that cover more time. There was one at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, three or four years ago."

For his part, Salle says he was too busy making art to be aware of all the hoopla.

"On the one hand, when you’re very young and all your energy is going into your work, you don’t notice all this other stuff people seem to notice," he says. "I definitely think that attention is a complicated, double-edged or multiedged implement. I think it’s safe to say that although too much attention can be a bad thing, it’s much better than neglect."
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