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David Salle

Brother Animal

1983

During the early 1980s, in part as a response to Minimalism, David Salle sought a return to figurative imagery with his large-scale Neo Expressionist canvases. For Brother Animal, Salle divided a horizontal canvas into two parts, such that it reads like the split screen of a film—an effect whose familiarity serves to heighten the viewer’s receptivity to the thematically disparate images placed side by side there. The juxtaposition of a dissected kidney and a woman, beginning to undress, watched by a man who lingers in the background, evokes the sex and danger of film noir, giving the work a sinister overtone. Pushing the familiar into strange territory, the artist challenges the viewer’s perceptions of reality and narrative by encouraging the formation of associations between seemingly random elements.

David Salle (b. 1952, Norman, Oklahoma; lives and works in New York and Sagaponack, Long Island)
Brother Animal, 1983
Oil and acrylic on canvas with wood chairs
Diptych: 94 1/2 x 168 1/2 in. overall
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
The Barry Lowen Collection

I saw that everything in this world is simultaneously itself and a representation of the idea of itself... But you also see the thing as more of an abstraction of itself. You see the thing as all of the ideas about it—as a representation. —David Salle