the seavest collection of contemporary realism
E-mail: rsegal@seavestinc.com | web site: www.seavestcollection.org
Seavest Collection Home Page | The Collection: Thumbnail Catalog | Index of Artists | Exhibition History | Selected Bibliography

John Salt and the Contemporary American Realists
An essay by Virginia Anne Bonito, PhD
John Salt: Street Profile with Grain Elevators, 1990 - Watercolor

In the poetic vision of this creative Photorealist, broken-down cars, trailers, and appliances are given new life as poignant emblems of decay. Their hulking forms, set casually adrift in weedy environments, nonetheless evoke affection and sympathy. This is due, in no small part, to the fact that these ruins have been executed with consummate skill by a master painter.

Salt is an Englishman who has drawn his inspiration from commercial photographs and random snapshots of American vehicles since 1967. Unlike other realists, who have focused on the visual challenges of the urban environment, Salt is most comfortable recording his automotive wrecks amidst the seedy textures of outposts that cling to the fringes of rural communities. A powerful oil painter, he is also highly regarded as a bravura watercolorist. Street Profile with Grain Elevators (1990) from the Seavest Collection is one example of his proficiency in this medium.

Here, the contemporary cars and pickup truck share the stage with the atmospheric, Depression-era street the artist has chosen as his subject. Salt, who consciously seeks to create 'Hopperesque' moods in his works, may be paying homage to that artist's celebrated Early Sunday Morning (l930) ('Hopper's painting is revered amongst the group of Realists to which Salt belongs, and is quoted by another of the artists represented in this exhibition, for which see the catalogue essay on Robert Cottingham.) Salt depicts a similar span of humble storefronts. But in Salt's composition, an abstracted "cloud" of white grain elevators rises above the shabby street, lending an organically voluptuous beat. These man-made forms are more luminous and compelling than the actual sky, laced with clouds, which is glimpsed only briefly above the scene. In the foreground, a "Men Working" street sign and the grouping of cars and pickup truck reminds the viewer that people have created, and inhabit, this environment. But they are mute. In a shift of roles, the architecture has been anthropomorphized, and through its rhythms and geometries has been given voice at the expense of man.

'Hopper's painting is revered amongst the group of Realists to which Salt belongs, and is quoted by another of the artists represented in this exhibition, for which see the catalogue essay on Robert Cottingham.

©by Virginia Anne Bonito, Salt "Get Real" essay, January 16, 1998



For a more detailed printed view of the collection order the book:

Get Real: Contemporary American Realism from the Seavest Collection
Virginia Anne Bonito. Foreword by Michael Philip Mezzatesta, pp. 138, 68 colorplates, 2 b/w photographs
Exhibition at DUMA April 4-July 6, 1997.
Hard cover $40.00 Soft cover $25.00

To order contact: Duke University Museum of Art

Click on Publications



a division of: ArtRegisterNetwork™
| artnewschannel.net | artregister.com | artistregister.com | museumregister.com | artregisterpress.com | artdevivre.net

Creation, implementation & maintenance by: ArtRegisterNetwork™
PO Box 256 - New York NY 10028-0003 - Tel.: 212.327.0401 - Fax: 212.288.3666