Neal Baer Collection

David Cannon Dashiell

Fragments of Autobiography – Panel #5


Pastel on paper

10 x 11 in; 25.4 x 27.94 cm

Courtesy of the Estate of David Cannon Dashiell

David Cannon Dashiell (b. 1952, Tokyo; d. 1993, San Francisco) spent his early childhood living in East Asia where his father, a cartographer for the US government, was stationed. Dashiell’s family moved back to the US in 1968 and Dashiell attended the California Institute of Arts (CalArts), where he studied with John Baldessari and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in fine arts. After working in Los Angeles as a graphic and industrial designer Dashiell moved to San Francisco in the early 1980s and resumed his art practice.

Panel #5 is part of Dashiell’s Fragments of Autobiography series of 12 pastels. Panel #5 features lines of text made illegible by truncated framing and the naked figure of a man reclining in the center over the letters. The graphic styled employed in this early work and themes of the primacy of the body, and of obscuring, hiding, and revealing linguistic meaning, emerge here and recur in Dashiell’s practice.

I’ve always had trouble with the idea of a gay sensibility. There are as many gay sensibilities as there are any other kind. But within the gay community at large, things like the AIDS epidemic have forced us to be analytical about people’s emotional reactions, and also with our own emotional reactions. So thinking in terms of a sensibility where we are critical of the world and ourselves, then yes, it has a gay sensibility…I’m trying to place that stance within the context of something else; to not make it stand out really big, but to put it into a larger context, which in the best of all worlds would happen, where it’s part of the world.

Interview with Nayland Blake, Shift Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 2 (1990), 46


The Estate of David Cannon Dashiell

Other works by David Cannon Dashiell

Lover’s Discourse Study – Expenditure (1987)

See also

The Estate of David Cannon Dashiell

Dashiell in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Dashiell in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art

Maria Porges, Reviews: San Francisco, “David Cannon Dashiell” at the SFAI Walter and McBean Galleries, Artforum, Vol. 32, No. 2 (October 1993)

Nayland Blake, Interview with David Cannon Dashiell, Shift Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 2 (1990), 46

Gina Prat Lilly, “Myth-Making and Shaking: the Subversive Art of David Cannon Dashiell,” Visual AIDS (January 12, 2023)

David Cannon Dashiell papers at the GLBT Historical Society, San Francisco