(American, b.1952) is a painter, printmaker, and photographer best known for his Figurative works, created from a variety of overlapping images
collected from magazines, pornography, comic books, and advertisements. Born in Norman, OK, Salle grew up in Wichita, KS, where he took art classes throughout high school at the Wichita Art Association. While attending the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, Salle studied under the prominent artist John Baldessari
(American, b.1931), whose Conceptual teachings were influential on Salle’s early works.
After earning both his BFA and MFA from CalArts, Salle moved to New York, where he worked for several artists, such as Vito Acconci
(American, b.1940), and photographed for a publishing house specializing in pornography. Among his earliest pieces are erotic depictions of nudes juxtaposed with everyday objects. In 1981, Salle was commissioned to design sets and costumes for Kathy Acker’s play, Birth of a Poet
. The experience piqued his interest in theater, leading Salle to collaborate with choreographer and lover Karole Armitage to produce The Mollino Room
several years later. Salle’s interest in set design and theatricality is evident in his large-scale works, which readdress history painting through the guise of a contemporary observer; in these works, Salle preserves everyday elements—from the banal and the heroic—in jarring compositions of restless energy.