Neo-Expressionism A label first used in the early 1980s to describe the work of narrative-based Expressionist painters working principally in Germany who reacted against the banalities of Conceptualism and impersonality of Minimalism . Neo-Expressionism saw a return to the traditional concerns of history painting , that is, the representation of narratives through the format of easel-painting. Anselm Kiefer, for example, treated his country's recent past in To the Unknown Painter (1983), a commentary on the tragedy of the Nazi period, while Georg Baselitz seems to comment on the human condition in figurative paintings in which people are represented upside down. Rejecting the purist concerns of high modernism , Neo-Expressionism contributed to the development of a new agenda which is in part (but only in part) represented by postmodernism . Leading Neo-Expressionists include Francesco Clemente, Jorg Immendorf, A.R. Peck and Julian Schnabel. http://www.xrefer.com/entry.jsp?xrefid=439463
Immendorf claims the possibility for the artist to work without any theorical or ideological justification, without any responsibility not social engagement. His works crowded with "heavy" figures, full of dazzling colours, privileges the ornament, leads more to the narrative folklore than to communication. The openly scenographic appearance of the composition is not a special effect, it does not look for any involvement of the spectator, but is a vital consequence of an excessive painting which ignores the linear evolutionary course. The obvious lack of style is not anymore provocation but is already struggle, deprival, which allows the treading of all the painting conventions, the first of them being the one according to which Art is a vehicle - or at least an instrument - of communication. This work does not declare anything. It differs voluntarily from any other communicative system, it message is purely formal and, to say it in Immendorf’s way : "An artist fist is a fist as well". http://www.galeriepieceunique.com/infoframes/immendorf.htm
Georg Baselitz was born Hans-Georg Kern on January 23, 1938, in Deutschbaselitz, in what was later East Germany. In 1956, Baselitz moved to East Berlin, where he studied painting at the Hochschule für bildende und angewandte Kunst. After being expelled, he studied from 1957 to 1962 at the Hochschule der bildenden Künste, West Berlin. During this period, he adopted the surname Baselitz, taken from the name of his birthplace. In searching for alternatives to Socialist Realism and Art Informel [ more ], he became interested in anamorphosis and in the art of the mentally ill. With fellow student Eugen Schönebeck, Baselitz staged an exhibition in an abandoned house, accompanied by the Pandämonisches Manifest I, 1. Version, 1961, which was published, together with a second version, as a poster announcing the exhibition. In 1963, Baselitz’s first solo exhibition at Galerie Werner & Katz, Berlin, caused a public scandal; several paintings were confiscated for public indecency. In 1965, he spent six months in the Villa Romana, Florence, the first of his yearly visits to Italy. Baselitz moved to Osthofen, near Worms, in 1966, and he began to make woodcuts and started a series of fracture paintings of rural motifs. During this time, he also painted his first pictures in which the subject is upside down, in an effort to overcome the representational, content-driven character of his earlier work. In 1975, Baselitz moved to Derneburg, near Hildesheim, and also traveled for the first time to New York and to Brazil for the São Paulo Bienal. In 1976, a retrospective of his work was organized by the Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Munich. He established a studio in Florence, which he used until 1981. Baselitz was appointed instructor in 1977 and professor the following year at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Karlsruhe, Germany. In 1980, his reputation established, Baselitz was chosen to represent Germany at the Venice Biennale. During the 1980s and into the 1990s, his work was frequently exhibited at the Michael Werner Galleries, Cologne and New York. In 1983, he left the academy in Karlsruhe to assume a professorship at the Hochschule der Künste, Berlin, which he gave up in 1988 but returned to in the early 1990s. The first volume of the catalogue raisonné of his graphic work was published in 1983 by Galerie Jahn, Munich. In 1987, Baselitz established a studio in Imperia, Italy. Since the late 1980s, solo exhibitions and retrospectives of Baselitz’s work have been presented at the Sala d’Arme di Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, in 1988 (traveling to the Hamburger Kunsthalle); Nationalgalerie, Berlin, in 1990; Kunsthaus Zürich in 1990 (traveling to Kunsthalle Düsseldorf); Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich, in 1992 (traveling to Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, and Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna); and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1995 (traveling to Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., and Nationalgalerie, Berlin). The artist lives in Derneburg and Imperia.
b. 1945, Donauschingen, Germany studied art informally under Joseph Beuys at the Düsseldorf Academy in the early 70's lives and works in Hornbach, Germany Of the younger German painters to emerge in recent decades, Anselm Kiefer has made the greatest impression on international audiences, and on Americans in particular. Born at the close of World War II, Kiefer reflects upon and critiques the myths and chauvinism which eventually propelled the German Third Reich to power. With Wagnerian scale and ambition, his paintings depict his generation's ambivalence toward the grandiose impulse of German nationalism and its impact on history. His work consistently balances the dual purposes of visually powerful imagery and intellectually critical analysis.
Curator and art historian Mark Rosenthal has written of Germany's Spiritual Heroes , a painting where historical meaning is superimposed upon a setting of personal significance, Kiefer's former studio in a rural schoolhouse: "The most monumental work of 1973, and the last of [an] important series, is Germany's Spiritual Heroes . On six strips of burlap sewn together, Kiefer drew perspective lines to form a deep theatrical space. The viewer is placed at the entrance of the cavernous room, slightly off center, engulfed by the wooden beams...The interior is at once a memorial hall and crematorium. Eternal fires burn along the wall as if in memory of the individuals, but the lower edge of the painting is darkened in a manner that suggests it has been singed. This highly flammable wooden room is in danger of burning, and with it Germany and its heroes will be destroyed...Kiefer's attitude about a Germany whose spiritual heroes are in fact transitory and whose deeply felt ideals are vulnerable is not only ambivalent but also sharply biting and ironical...these great figures and their achievements are reduced to just names, recorded not in a marble edifice but in the attic of a rural schoolhouse." http://www.broadartfoundation.org/bios/bio-kiefer.html
Among Roman artists who feel at ease with their cultural heritage, Carlo Maria Mariani is certainly one of the most knowledgeable, sophisticated and resourceful. He is fortunate to have matured in a city that is an open textbook of world history. By the end of the third century B.C., Rome dominated the Italian peninsula, having conquered its Etruscan neighbors to the north and vanquished the Greek cities of southern Italy. During its most expansive phase, under the emperors Trajan and Hadrian, the Roman empire commanded the entire rim of the Mediterranean, from Spain to Syria and from Germany to Ethiopia. By the eighteenth century, when topographic artists converged on Rome to sketch its hodgepodge of antique temples, Egyptian obelisks, medieval and Renaissance churches, the Eternal City was a multi-layered treasure trove of ancient, modern, pagan and Christian monuments. A hometown with such a long and complex history might intimidate many an artist, but Mariani thrives on the juxtaposition of contrasting styles and sensibilities, which he exploits to the maximum in his art. He is a connoisseur of many of the artistic impulses that swirled through Rome during the past two millennia, and he often gathers and concentrates them to create images that are poetic, dreamlike and inexplicable.
Mariani's artistic identity is elusive and difficult to pin down, and his arcane visionary pictures represent situations or concepts that exist beyond the demonstrably known world. He is both a modernist and an anti-modernist, an insider (perceiving art history from a Roman perspective) and an outsider (viewing all historical styles through the wary eyes of a revisionist historian). "I think of myself," he once said, "as an artist who is a contemporary, outside of my time.”
One of Mariani's most intriguing recent paintings, L'Imponderabile, is profusely layered with enigma. Its central figure is a nude youth, who stands alongside a seated man. The pallid, delicately poised youth with somewhat marmoreal flesh is depicted with exquisite ambiguity, his facial expression suggesting curiosity as well as serenity. Mariani's painterly expertise is abundantly visible in his luscious treatment of luminosity -- the subtle chiaroscuros and the glimmers of ruddy color that cling to fleshy edges. The seated man wears a large classical head-mask, disproportionate in size to the rest of his figure, over his own head and neck, while sitting on an even larger marble head, which is turned on its side. Consequently, the seated figure is implicated in the different head-scales: the toppled monumental head, the oversized mask and his actual head, which remains unseen. Most bizzarely, he holds a megaphone to his inanimate mouth. The room is illuminated through an open window on the right wall. A dainty feminine figure, wearing a Picasso head-mask, peers through the window, ostensibly studying her reflection in a hand-mirror. Her head is obviously inspired by one of Picasso's busts of the early 1930's, portraying his lover Marie-ThZˇr?se Walter, who was also the model for the artist's painting Girl before a Mirror (1932). But can Mariani's woman really see anything at all? What is the arcane connection between her mirror and the adult male's megaphone? Do they signify thwarted sight and sound or self-aggrandizement?
If L'Imponderabile's juxtaposition of classical and Picassoid heads seems a bit odd, the kinky combination of heads in The Grand Creative Process is even more strange. Here, two figures are amorously sprawled on a bed, legs intertwined, suggesting a pair of Boucher Venuses engaged in extracurricular activities. One wears an oversized head-mask based on a similar Picasso bust, the other a mask of a classical Greek youth. While wearing male and female masks that alter the fantasy element of their face-off, the figures also represent a cultural confrontation between antique and modern conceptions of beauty. Mariani's images obviously spring from a well-stocked imagination that is fueled by classicism in virtually all its manifestations, from the imposing glories of the Greco-Roman world and the grandiose idealism of the High Renaissance to the refined simplicity of late 18th-century neoclassicism and exemplary "classic" masterpieces of early 20th-century modernism. The main focus of Mariani's stylistic references, however, is neoclassicism, a style with an emphasis upon clear articulation, formal purism and a resolute tendency toward idealization.
One of Mariani's most arresting adaptations of the neoclassical style is Weaver of the Ideal, an allegorical portrait of the three Bront‘ sisters reunited in an elysian setting whose somberness hints at their melancholy history, the three sisters are depicted with almost marmoreal solidity. They are also strangely androgynous, wearing sheer dresses that show off their full-bodied figures. Their somewhat masculine faces are crowned with laurel-leaf crowns that seem to possess unnatural vigor. The sisters sit in a row, collectively holding on their laps a large marble arm that weilds a quill pen. A convoluted marble scroll, representing a long roll of paper, twines among their wrists. It is embellished with the letters "C," "E" and "A," the initials of their own given names as well as their literary pseudonyms -- Currier, Ellis and Acton Bell.
Doom and destruction appear on the horizon of The Three Elements, a scene of aerial invasion that is both frightening and melodramatically comic. The setting is a murky coastline, with small waves lapping at the shore. Three young female nudes, representing earth, water and air, flee from the scene, each pert body trailing a piece of fabric. They wear head-masks of classical females. Overhead, a squadron of red, Lego airplanes approaches. The airplanes may be only plastic toys but that does not diminish their menace. (Plastic, to Mariani's mind, nearly always represents pollution and environmental degradation. Consider the supine figure mysteriously heaped with red plastic parts in the lower corner of L'Imponderabile.) The desperate plight of the figures in The Three Elements brings to mind virtually every kind of enemy invasion, from marauding nomads on horseback and pillaging Vikings in longships to the deadly forces of modern aerial warfare.
Mariani is exceptionally deft at interweaving ambiguity with irony. How many young women could be as ambiguous as the lithe figure, scantily clad in a blue tunic, who slides through thin air in The First Target? Is she diving out of the building or perhaps falling into the open window? There is plenty of irony in the representation of a Greek statue of Apollo with a lyre in the lower right corner of the picture: the god of music and poetry is ingloriously bedecked with the modern detritus of bottle caps, painted in trompe l'oeil. Actual bottle caps, as opposed to simulated ones, are scattered across the surface of Deified Philosopher, an experimental work for the artist insofar as he exhibits it in a horizontal format. The image consists of an overhead view of a medieval floor sculpture, based on an actual tomb (c. 1450) of a Dominican prior in a Roman church. The eroded tomb-carving is bordered, above and below, by fleshy signs of life -- rose-bedecked ankles and the bottom half of a lightly draped female nude. A marble head, in the lower right corner, a marble hand and brush, held by a living hand, perhaps signify the durability of the creative spirit. On the whole, however, the picture seems a somber meditation on death and decay.
While alluding to earlier artistic styles, Mariani reminds us that the past was often filled with terror as well as beauty. By recreating the elegiacal moods of neoclassical painting, he resuscitates age-old dreams of classical values. His art affirms his belief that certain ideals and values transcend the time and place of their origin and continue to exert a seductive appeal beyond the framework of history. All of the above mentioned pictures were painted in New York where Mariani has been living for the past several years. Although life in New York has heightened his awareness of the contemporary art world, it has not obliterated his fascination with the past. If anything, New York and its fast-moving contemporary culture bring forth the need for a strong voice with the ability to revitalize cultural memory. With his carefully orchestrated collisions between classical ideals and contemporary concepts, Mariani's paintings provide the restorative force of such a voice http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/bourdon/bourdon97-10-31.asp
Born in Florence on 20th April 1946. Having studied at the Istituto d'Arte, he enrolled at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, gaining his diploma in 1969. He travelled extensively in India, Turkey and throughout Europe before settling in Rome in 1970. He continued to work in the conceptual field, exhibiting many times in Rome and in Europe during 1970s. Having obtained a scholarship from the city of Mönchengladbach in Germany, he worked there from September 1980 until August 1981, and then moved to New York 1981-82 and worked between New York and Ronciglione. The numerous exhibitions both in Europe and America testify to his increasing fame as an artist. His works appeared in various exhibitions dedicated to the so-called "transavantgarde", about which, however, he calls the following : "The transavantgarde means nothing to me, signifies nothing, just as neo-expressionism signifies nothing..." (S.Chia, Flash Art, 1984). http://www.sandrochia.com/biography.html
"Francesco Clemente: Italian painter. Self-taught, he studied architecture. In 1974 he met Beuys. Since 1982 he has divided his time between Italy, New York and Madras. He was involved with the Italian Transavanguardia. A period of experiment resulted in a hallucinatory style which expressed an infernal imaginary world in livid tones, leaden greys, violet-toned nocturnes, olive or petrol green. His painting, which ranges from tragic scenes to ironic self-portraits, begins with a pre-existing image, transforming its meaning by shifts as subtle as they are unpredictable. His bodies display a Primitivism which suggests the influence of Gauguin." - From "Art 20: The Thames and Hudson Multimedia Dictionary of Modern Art CD-ROM" ------------------------------------------------------------------------ "Clemente invents what he calls "unknown ideograms, ideograms in costumes," in which "logic and chance as one force" become effective. It is to that intense experience, hidden in silence, devoid of words, where feeling and thought can be reconciled, that his pictures lead us. "Clemente's questions probe truth, reality and being. They are a response to findings in modern science, findings that have been investigated earlier in this century by philosophers such as Heideger and Wittgenstein, and that, even earlier still, have been posed by the members of the Romantic movement at the turn of the nineteenth century: If the spectator could enter into these images in his approaching them on the fiery chariot of his contemplative thought, if he could enter into Noah's rainbow or into his bosom, or could make a friend and companion of one of the images of wonder, which always entreats him to leave mortal things (as be must know), then he would arise from his grave then he would meet the Lord in the air and then he would be happy - William Blake: Description of a Vision of the Last Judgement "Like the surrealists, to whose work Clemente's bears a superficial similarity, he makes images that startle the viewer. Unlike the surrealists, who directed their attention to creating a new visual vocabulary in order to elucidate traditional meanings, Clemente's images are pure inventions full of new meanings. "And whereas the concept underlying most surrealist art presupposed a certain knowledge of their pictorial sources, Clemente exploits figurative images for non-narrative purposes. In this respect, he also departs from his more immediate contemporaries. Clemente's paintings do not tell a story, nor do they provide a description of a situation. Clemente's imagery attempts to unsettle the observer's conventional assumption of what reality is supposed to be. "It is in this sense that Clemente has something original to contribute: figure-words, as Novalis would call it, pictorial discoveries from a pre-conscious, pre-linguistic world, releasing associations in the observer through the power of their expressiveness. This pictorial means is one we are most familiar with through fairy tales, myths and dreams - meanings of possible, conceivable worlds. His pictures question a reality that only exists by approximation, and whose existence we intimate through the power of our own desires.” http://www.artchive.com
b. 1951, New York City B.F.A., University of Houston, Texas lives and works in New York Julian Schnabel came to prominence in the eighties as a leading figure in what came to be known as "neo-expressionism". After decades when cool minimalism and conceptual art had completely eclipsed painting, Schnabel's work, which often displays a romantic or heroic content, was seen as emotive and subjective. Along with the attention garnered for his painting, Schnabel received a controversial stardom never before seen in the art world. The hype surrounding the artist often occluded the importance of the work. Schnabel is perhaps most noted for painting on broken plates and crockery applied onto typically vast wooden armatures. Though he made many works that did not employ this device, these unusual surfaces became his signature style. According to the artist, the idea came to him during a reverie in Europe, when he "had the funny idea" that he wanted to make a painting the size of the oddly large closet in his cheap hotel room, covered with broken plates. The works he made upon his return possessed a sculptural and tactile vitality which catapulted Schnabel into the limelight. the plate painting Self-Portriat in Andy's Shadow illustrated here, demonstrates Schnabel's frequent use of the plate surfaces for large-scale portraiture, mostly of friends and personalities in the art world. Schnabel makes his own image and links it, as homage, to Andy Warhol, whose date of death is written on the surface. http://www.broadartfoundation.org/bios/bio-schnabel.html
Born in New York City, he became a much-recognized painter of abstract art who loved to experiment with the application of medium to various grounds. He explored techniques of achieving a three-dimensional effect on two-dimensional surfaces by boring holes and adding protrusions such as broken crockery. In 1978, he traveled in Spain and was much affected by the many mosaics he observed. He earned a Bachelor's Degree at the University of Houston in 1973 and spent two years in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in New York and then moved back to Texas for eight months. He had a solo show at the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston. He spent three years working as a cook in New York restaurants and then travelled through Europe painting. In 1979, he created a sensation in the New York art scene with his one-man show at the Mary Boone Gallery. He continued to work and live in New York City and has been linked in style to Jackson Pollock. http://askart.com/Biography.asp
b. 1960, Brooklyn, New York d. 1988, New York In the late seventies, brief, cryptic messages began to appear on the streets of Manhattan, all signed SAMO. These subversive, sometimes menacing statements "PLAYING ART WITH DADDY'S MONEY", "9 TO 5 CLONE", "PLUSH SAFE...HE THINK" piqued the curiosity of viewers around New York and soon gained notoriety in the art world. SAMO, whose tag called up associations like "Sambo", "Samson", or "Same Old Shit", remained anonymous for some time. Eventually, it became known that the author of SAMO's poetic defacements was Jean-Michel Basquiat, with Al Diaz as his partner. Born in Brooklyn to middle class Haitian and Puerto Rican parents, Basquiat left home as a teenager to live in lower Manhattan, take drugs, play in a noise band and support himself with odd jobs. Around 1980, Basquiat's work began to attract attention from the art world, particularly after a group of artists from the punk and graffiti underground held the "Times Square Show" in an abandoned massage parlor. There, a wall covered with spray painting and brushwork by SAMO received favorable notices in the press, and Basquiat soon began to sell his paintings out of his tenement apartment. Within a year or two, Basquiat was well known throughout the art world, though SAMO graffiti appeared less and less often. Eventually, a few black marker messages inscribed around town announced "SAMO is dead." Jean-Michel Basquiat died of a heroin overdose on August 12, 1988. Untitled "Skull" demonstrates Basquiat's consummate and complex abilities as a painter, and his frequent use of images, like this skull, as semi-self portraits. Contrary to many observers of his life, who, with veiled racism, considered him a primitive "wild child" talent, Basquiat's endeavors were informed by a long-standing and sophisticated interest in the devices of painting. http://www.broadartfoundation.org /bios/bio-basquiat.html
b. 1948, New York, New York B.F.A. California Institute of the Arts, 1972 lives and works in New York In the late seventies and early eighties, Eric Fischl's work helped reinvest the traditional medium of painting with contemporary relevance. Fischl became well known for psychologically intense paintings, where extraordinary dreamlike scenes occur in suburban settings. Unflinchingly focused on the subject of human relationships, Fischl depicts moments when something potentially disastrous or taboo seems about to happen. The enigmatic sources of the images, whether they are plucked from dreams or conscious, day-to-day life, forms the primary dilemma and challenge presented in the work. The Foundation added Fischl's important five-part series of paintings, The Travel of Romance: Scenes I-V to its collection, as part of its ongoing commitment to his work. Comprising a subtle but significant shift in the mood and content of Fischl's painting, The Travel of Romance's five canvases depict a sequence of moments over the course of a day. The paintings' main subject is a woman and her solitude, rather than a relationship between a number of figures. She occupies a single room in an undetermined but seemingly foreign locale, amidst objects of travel, such as the suitcase. Possessing a luminosity and ease unprecedented in Fischl's work, these paintings resonate with historical influences. Velvety, liquid paint handling recalls the 19th century French painter Edouard Manet, and 17th century Spanish painters, such as Veláquez. Fischl's scenes depict not just a physical journey but also an emotional one. "She came into that room looking for something. If she was trying to leave the room, then it was a total failure, because she doesn't get out. And if she came looking for something, then maybe [the] last painting is redemptive. What she was looking for wasn't what she finally accepted, which was her aloneness." http://www.broadartfoundation.org/bios/bio-fischl1.html
b. 1931, National City, California M.F.A from San Diego State Univeristy, 1957 lives and works in Santa Monica, California John Baldessari's well-known and influential style, first developed in the 1960's and 70's, uses fragments of photographs and film stills drawn from his vast personal archive. This familiar technique is seen in Seashells/Tridents/Frames/ , where Baldessari assembles a grouping of black-and-white photographs which are cropped or partially covered and have no obvious relationship to each other. Only when considering the subject of the artist's working technique does a connection between the images emerge. The cropped image of a man "fishing" with a trident poised over still waters, the suited man in the leftmost image presenting ornate picture frames, and the central image of a collection of seashells on display in a cabinet all serve as metaphors for the contemporary artists' search for choice images. In addition, decisions made regarding the presentation, framing, and display of those images may illicit interpretations about the artist's search for self. Seen in this way, Seashells/Tridents/Frames becomes a contemplation of issues about artmaking that have fascinated Baldessari and propelled his work for years. Baldessari's influence on several generations of artists, many now well known, results from his innovative work as well as his famous decades-long tenure as a teacher at the California Institute of the Arts. While long appreciated in Europe, Baldessari's work was only recently featured in prominent exhibitions in the United States.
b. 1949, San Jose, California B.F.A., Art Center College of Design, also studied at Hunter College, New York lives and works in New York From an early age, Mark Tansey was exposed to pictures of art by way of his art historian parents. His approach to painting reflects a deep knowledge of art, as many of his motifs are either lifted from historical paintings or depict important artists and philosophers. The recognizability of his illustrative images, however, is accompanied by Tansey's allegories about the meaning of art and the mystery of the human impulse to make image. Each painting is carefully calculated both in terms of technique and meaning. The single hue in which his paintings are rendered acts as a constant reminder of the essential falsehood of all painting, and as a means to focus on the ideas presented. Tansey achieves the precise photographic-like quality of his canvases by a complicated set of maneuvers involving the application of gesso and either washing, brushing and/or scraping the monochromatic paint into it. The specificity of his technique extends to the ideas probed. Tansey's subjects are fantastic, sometimes surreal scenes in which intellectual theories about art are dramatized often complete with portraits of "characters" drawn from art history. Forward Retreat describes the slipperiness of perception and questions the validity of innovation in art. The central image of horseback riders is painted as a reflection on water, thereby raising questions about perception. The riders, all outfitted in uniforms or garb of Western powers (American, French, German, and British), represent the nationalities of artists who came to dominate 20th century art history, and are depicted seated backwards on their horses, focused on a distant receding horizon, oblivious to the fact that their steeds trample on the crushed ruins of myriad pottery and objects d'art. With typically dry humor, Tansey implies two conclusions: that art progresses on the ruins of its own history, and that artmaking is propelled in part by unconscious forces, while the conscious mind is busied with contemplation of the past. http://www.broadartfoundation.org/bios/bio-tansey.html
b. 1952, Norman, Oklahoma B.F.A., 1973, M.F.A. 1975, California Institute of the Arts lives and works in New York David Salle is a painter who has taken the device of pastiche, which is central to modern art, and made it both the form and content of his work. His canvases are populated with dramatic images lifted from sources as various as his own black-and-white photographs, eighteenth through twentieth century French and American painting, print advertising from the fifties, and "how to draw" manuals. Their juxtaposition gives his paintings a mystery and charge which intrigued the art world in the eighties and made him, along with Julian Schnabel, a "star" of what is known as "postmodern" or "neo-expressionist" art. In Demonic Roland , as in many of Salle's paintings, the idea and images behind the work are literary as well as visual. The reference in the title most likely has its literary source in the Song of Roland of the Charlemagne cycle, yet the images making up the canvas relate to this only obscurely, and with a fair dose of paradox. Salle's depiction of two working men in a depression era photograph form the primary image, and floating most prominently over this is a startlingly bright, fleshy pastiche of a voluptuous nude. The combinations of "high art" and "low art" images completely thwart narrative and meaning, and comprise the primary intention of the work. Salle's paintings capture the impressions of the detached observer, interweaving unresolved intellectualism and eroticism, never quite forming a comfortable vision of a coherent universe. In this way he reflects the ongoing, modern problem of reconciling one's individuality with the constant input of images and ideas from the outside, media-dominated world. http://www.broadartfoundation.org/bios/bio-salle.html
Neo expressionism: art of the 80s
As discussed in the Text “Postmodernism”