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Julian Schnabel

 (born 1951)
Julian Schnabel is active/lives in New York.  Julian Schnabel is known for abstraction, collage, performance.

Julian Schnabel

    SHNAH-bel  speaker-click to hear pronunciation  click to hear

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Julian Schnabel
Born in New York City, Julian Schnabel 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 traveled 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.

The following is from the New York Times, March 24, 2001:

Julian Schnabel's Lust for Life, By PHILIP WEISS

On a snowy night in Albany last month, 600 people packed a hall at the State University of New York for a screening of the movie "Before Night Falls" and cheered wildly when the film maker Julian Schnabel came on stage after the show. Schnabel was wearing a boxy gray jacket; he did not fit the image he had gained over the years as a painter in a sarong.  He seemed ungainly, and the heavy black glasses he put on only emphasized the bluntness of his features.  His beard stuck out like a shingle.  His bright round cheeks made his eyes almost disappear.

But as comfortable as a man walking onto his veranda to greet old friends, Schnabel spoke in a stream-of-consciousness way about his film, others' films, art, whatever crossed his mind. "You know, I watch a movie like 'Cast Away' and I want to, like, commit hara-kiri," he said. "The dumb lobby, the money lobby -- there are companies that would rather make one dumb movie for $200 million rather than 20 $10 million movies that might have some meaning."

Thunderous applause.

Then Schnabel turned to his friend in the front row, the novelist William Kennedy, and asked for his coat. "Do you believe in ghosts, Bill?" he said. ("I do," Kennedy replied, handing over the coat. "I've got them in my new novel.")

Schnabel pulled a book from a pocket of the coat and began reading from the writings of the man his movie celebrates, Reinaldo Arenas, the Cuban writer who died in New York 11 years ago.

There were questions from the audience. A woman, perplexed, asked if he was going to keep painting.

"I'm a painter," Schnabel replied. "I've made 1,000 paintings. I've made two movies. I'll probably make another movie. Basically I'm an artist. Whatever tool it is, whether it's a camera or it's a paintbrush, I'm kind of, I guess, expressing something and trying to find the right tool- "

The woman's confusion was understandable.  Julian Schnabel has been a famous -- and infamous -- painter for 20 years.  Now he has emerged as a gifted film director, his talent evident in the loving fantasia of revolutionary and gay Cuba he created in his second film.

"Before Night Falls" succeeded despite its uncompromising subject matter: the life of a gay Cuban poet who, dying of AIDS, committed suicide. "I tried to talk him out of it," says his friend, the actor Dennis Hopper. "I said: 'Julian, you're in a position to make a film that's commercial, that people can go to, and then later you can make "Before Night Falls." But right now establish yourself.' He said, 'No, I've got to make this film.' So he went out and he made it."

This grand gesture of Schnabel's recalled his first one, the plate paintings of the late 70's.  These paintings kicked off the 80's art boom and allowed Schnabel to buy teal suits and the silk designer pajamas he wore in the streets of New York, making himself a symbol of an excessive age. Since then, he has endured scathing criticism that his work is superficial and macho, or worse.

The criticism didn't interest me.  Schnabel has made it in two difficult and ruthless fields in the arts.  There really isn't anyone like him.

Three days after the Albany screening, I visited Schnabel where he works and lives in the West Village.  It's a former perfume factory with 20-foot ceilings now barely able to accommodate Schnabel's vision.  A half dozen paintings were lined up around the walls, each the size of a studio-apartment floor, each with a pale ground and bearing a few splatlike images and then the message "Hat Full of Rain."

People milled about, speaking Spanish.  Cuban music was on very loud.

I had to use the bathroom and was shown through a set of double doors into the Schnabel household.  I bumped into a dressmaker's bust and a man bent over a sewing machine.  Around a corner was the bathroom, which had antique hardware and a period sink and felt like a page from The World of Interiors magazine.  I was thoroughly confused about the line between domestic interior and artistic space and exhibition space.  Later I understood that these lines are not very clear in Schnabel's mind, and that this confusion has worked to his advantage. When I returned, Schnabel was speaking Spanish to a group of young filmmakers and kissing them goodbye.  He wore the same boxy jacket he'd worn in Albany, his loose brown pants were mended with haphazard stitching over one thigh and he had on pink socks visible above his boots.  We sat down in two chairs, and I started to ask him questions about how he had done what he'd done.

Schnabel got to his feet, cutting me off.

"You have a very specific idea of what you want to do, but at the same time I might derail you a little bit if I start showing you pictures. But. . . . "

For the next 40 minutes or so we looked at pictures.  Two assistants moved them around, and they teetered scarily.  Schnabel was bent on showing me his artistic method.  The heart of this is being present, being open to what hits him in the moment, whether it's a painting or a movie. "I don't have a system, I don't want a system. I made the movie so I could make art, so I could make something that I wanted to look at. I don't even know why I did it, logically."

Schnabel motioned for me to follow him upstairs.  He led me past a tall man whom he identified as his brother -- Stephen Schnabel works for his younger brother as an accountant -- and up a staircase to a kind of cement loggia.  Another of Schnabel's magical interiors, this one was dimly lighted and hung with a red Italian curtain.  We then entered a room that felt like a castle chamber.  A stuffed monkey hung from a wooden bar, fabulous rugs were piled one atop the other, there were curtains everywhere and a Durer print on the wall.

Schnabel said that it was a bedroom.  At the back was a bed on a dais.

"It's the monkey room. Javier was here; he stayed there."

He wanted to show me a picture of his at the foot of the bed, "Pisa," an orange painting with a kind of wax proboscis in the middle.  Schnabel sold the painting for $700 in 1977 to the art dealer Holly Solomon, then bought it back a few years later for $50,000, because he needed to be able to look at it.

Schnabel stood staring fondly at the painting, saying it reminded him of his first movie, 'Basquiat,' which he made in 1996 and watched again just the night before, and relished.

Schnabel was a famous painter before he was 30, and from the beginning of his career, he was friendly with actors.  Youthful fame was something they could relate to.  And Schnabel admired actors' self-involvement and their instinctual method. Hollywood always came to New York to buy art, but over the last 20 years, the distance between the coasts has shrunk.  Miramax, Spike Lee and the producer Scott Rudin have made New York an important outpost in the film business.  Studio heads have bought homes in the Hamptons.  Sometimes it's hard to tell dealers and producers apart.

Hollywood people also called Schnabel to come to their homes and see their collections.  Michael Ovitz once sent him chocolate-chip cookies when he was at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, hoping that Schnabel might come by. .......

Another way of saying this is that Schnabel believes his powers are godlike, which is the sort of thing that Hollywood understands.  At one point in our own conversations, Schnabel likened articles about him to various painters' renditions of Christ on the cross. ............

(Ross) Bleckner played a key part in Schnabel's first Herculean test. Twenty-three years ago, the two went to Spain together, and while Bleckner was on the beach in Ibiza, Schnabel retreated to Barcelona in a down mood.  There he was drawn to the mosaics in Gaudi's Park Guell.  Returning to New York, he went to the Salvation Army on Eighth Avenue at 20th Street and bought all the dishes they had.

A worker there tried to box the dishes carefully, and Schnabel took them out of his hands.

"I dropped them in the box, smashing them," Schnabel later wrote. "He looked shocked. I said: 'It's O.K. I was going to break them anyway."'

The smashing crockery was soon heard everywhere.  Schnabel, along with a group that included David Salle, Eric Fischl and Robert Longo, ended the era of minimalism and conceptual art.  Fischl and Salle's works were voyeuristic, film-influenced.  Schnabel's was architectural and theatrical.  He mixed an object with flat representation, confusing the viewer, holding the viewer.

Before long he was the most famous of the suddenly famous group, as noted for his big life as for his emotional, impulsive neo-expressionist work.  Tuten says: "They came out of nowhere, they seemed retrograde because they were figurative and they became celebrities overnight. To some, they seemed to represent everything that was horrible about 80's bratty guys who got all these goodies out of nowhere, when everyone else had had to pay their dues."

With Tuten's help, Schnabel wrote a remarkably honest book about his artistic education that also had a vainglorious air. .......

The artist Jeff Koons says:

"The art movement of the 80's, and the support of that art, well, a whole lot of it rests on Julian's shoulders," he says. "He came in with this bravissimo of strength and really tried to share his success." ...........

Speaking by phone from Florida, Jack Schnabel (his father) said that Julian,
the baby among his three children, was his favorite and his wife's too.  When Julian was a boy in Brooklyn, the Schnabels gave him oil paints when other children were using crayons, because Julian wanted them.

Jack Schnabel's accent took me aback.  It is a Brooklyn accent of the sort that used to be parodied right after the war.  Oil for Earl.  He seemed a throwback.  It turned out he had emigrated from Czechoslovakia in 1926, at 15, stowed away on a boat.

"I didn't need no job; I'm too smart for that," he said. "I never worked for anybody. I handled my own business.  Julian took that from me.  He was his own man, at all times.  I always told him,  Make sure you're a straight guy, and make sure you're honest.  Don't fool nobody, don't tell no lies."

Jack Schnabel worked in the meat business in Brooklyn.  Then he bought supermarkets and a coffee shop in the borough before moving to Brownsville, Tex., on the spur of the moment when Julian was 15.

"I changed my line," Jack Schnabel said flatly. "I had an uncle in the clothes business."

Julian Schnabel has always been thankful to his parents for moving to Texas.  In a rare moment of self-analysis, he said to me, "Growing up in New York, being a member of the, you know, what do I say, the Jewish cultural community of Brooklyn, and then in Texas it was like I became a witness and a participant of, you know, a catalog of small-town tragedies."

Schnabel's mother, Esther, became the head of a local Brooklyn chapter of Hadassah, the Jewish women's volunteer organization.  She was the one who took her son to museums.  In Texas, Jack Schnabel drove around in a new Chrysler looking for real-estate deals and left his teenage son working for him in a dusty warehouse, breaking up bales of used clothes and selling lots to Mexican clothes dealers who came across the border.

Julian had no ambition to work as a garmento.  He wanted to be at the beach. "I didn't want my father to leave me in that warehouse anymore," he recalls.  So he took a bold career risk.  One day he sold $10,000 worth of clothes to a woman for $2,000.  He told his father that the woman promised the rest of the money.  Of course she never showed up again.  And Julian was relieved of his duties.

"Anyway, I gave it back to him later," he said, with a boyish smile.

Biography from Auctionata
Julian Schnabel studied from 1969 to 1973 at the University of Houston in Texas. After that he took part in the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program in New York.  In 1979 his first solo exhibition was shown at the Mary Boone Gallery, which secured him the attention of the art world.  In 1980, Schnabel participated in the Venice Biennale and already a few years later his figurative works made him one of the main representatives of New Image Painting.  Especially his large paintings on surfaces of broken porcelain or glass caused a sensation.  Since the 1990s Julian Schnabel works successfully as a film director. (fea)

Biography from
Julian Schnabel came to prominence in the eighties as a leading figure in what came to be known as 'Neo-Expressionism' after decades when 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.  He wrote and directed the feature film Basquiat, and his new film Before Night Falls, based on the life of the late exiled Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arenas, opened in December 2000.

Born in 1951 in Texas
University of Houston, Texas, obtained his BFA
1973-1974 went to New York and participated in the Whitney Museum independent study program in New York.
1975 returned to Texas, exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Houston
1976 returned to New York and worked as a cook until 1978

Selected solo exhibitions:
1976  Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston

1978  December Gallery, Düsseldorf, Germany

1979  Mary Boone Gallery, New York

1980-81  Bruno Bishofberger Gallery, Zurich Kunsthalle, Basel
Mary Boone Gallery, New York
Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany

1982-85  Steedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
The Tate Gallery, London
Mary Boone Gallery, New York
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Bruno Bishofberger Gallery, Zurich
Léo Castelli Gallery, New York
Akira Ikeda Gallery, Tokyo
Galleria Enzo Sperone, Rome

1986  Mario Diacono Gallery, Boston
The Pace Gallery, New York

1975-1986', Whitechapel Art Gallery, London then the Georges Pompidou Center, Paris
Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

1987  Milwaukee Art Museum, milwaukee
Akira Ikeda Gallery, Tokyo
Hoffman/ Borman Gallery, Santa Monica
Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles

1988-89  Israël Museum, Jérusalem
Gian Enzo Sperone Gallery, Rome
Waddington Gallery, London
'Reconocimientos /the recognitions painting', Museum of Contemporary Art, Sevilla then Kunsthalle, Basel

1990  Yvon Lambert Gallery, Paris

1987-1990', Pace Gallery, New York
Duson Gallery, Seoul
Gian Enzo Sperone, Rome
Maison Carrée, Nîmes

1991-92  'Julian Schnabel : open air sculpture exhibition, La Chanterella, Saint Moritz
Gian Enzo Sperone, Rome
'Julian Schnabel & early Tapestries', Feuerle, Cologne
'Julian Schnabel : Sculpture' Gallery Soledad Lorenzo, Madrid
Poche Gallery, Paris
Waddington Gallery, London
Beaubourg Gallery, Paris
'Julian Schnabel : Graphische Arbeiten 1983-1991', Daniel Blau Gallery, Munich
Bruno Bischofberger Gallery, Zurich
Olatz, Pace Gallery, New York

1993-94  Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
Jason Rubell Gallery, New York, Miami
National Museum of the Art Center, Reina Sofia
Gian Ferrari Arte Contemporanea, Milan
'Jane Birkin Paintings', Pace Wildenstein Gallery, New York
'Mayor Retrospective of Paintings and Works on Paper from 1977 to 1993'
Monterrey Museum, Monterrey
Biennial of Sao Paulo

1995  Joan Miro Foundation, Barcelona
Ramis Barquet Gallery, Mexico
'The Conversion of Saint-Paul Malfi, the pink blouse I like the most and other pink paintings', Jablonka Gallery, Cologne

1996-97  'The Conversion of Saint-Paul Malfi, Pace Wildenstein, New York
Sperone Westwater, New York
Waddington Gallery, Londres
Bruno Bishofberger Gallery, Zurich
Modern Art Gallery, Bologna

1998-99  Pace Wildenstain, Los Angeles
Guild Hall, East Hampton
South London Gallery, London
1000 Eventi, Milan
Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg

2000  Galerie Forsblom, Helsinki
Galeria Ramis Barquet, Mexico City

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About  Julian Schnabel

Born:  1951 - New York, New York
Known for:  abstraction, collage, performance

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Julian Schnabel