Spring is here—on the calendar anyway, if not in consistent weather—and the art of Julian Schnabel is in bloom all over the map, with two shows in New York City, one in Dallas, and one opening in London later this month.
The four exhibitions, with runs ranging in duration from one month to four months, are built around different themes, and all offer different windows and insights into the artist’s work. Taken together, it becomes clear what Julian Schnabel has been up to over the last 25 years.
Coinciding with the renewed interest in the artist-filmmaker's work, Schnabel is the subject of a recently released video showing the artist making paintings in his Montauk studio. Some of these works are exhibited in the Dairy Art Centre show. The six-minute video will also screen during the exhibition's run at the non-profit art space.
If you're seeking Schnabel, here's the list:
“Flag Painting” opened March 26 and continues through April 26 at Karma in New York City.
“An Artist Has a Past (Puffy Clouds and Strong Cocktails)” opened April 11 and runs through Aug. 10 at the Dallas Contemporary Museum.
“View of Dawn in the Tropics: Paintings, 1989–1990” opens on April 18 at Gagosian Gallery’s West 24th Street location in New York City. It runs through May 31. A preview reception is being held tonight (April 17).
“Julian Schnabel: Every Angel has a Dark Side” opens on April 25 at the non-profit Dairy Art Centre in London and closes July 27.
The exhibitions also cast a searing spotlight on Schnabel the painter.
Now widely known for his work as a filmmaker (“Basquiat”, “Before Night Falls”, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”), Schnabel first received critical attention for his art in the 1980s
Schnabel first grabbed attention for his art during a solo show at Paula Cooper Gallery in 1979. He presented work at the 1980 Venice Biennale and soon after received widespread international acclaim for his "plate paintings"—large-scale paintings set on broken ceramic plates. Since then, Schnabel has continued to explore the possibilities of expression in painting. His work is included in the collections of major museums all over the world.
This recent focus of attention on his art is the first widespread examination since the mid 1980s. Each of the current exhibitions presents a different lens for examining Schnabel's paintings and process.
“Flag Painting” at Karma
All of the works in the “Flag Painting” exhibition at Karma (39 Great Jones Street) were created using found flags as a blank canvas, onto which Schnabel applied ink, gesso and spray paint in gestural strokes over the existing flag design.
"...The found object quality of these works draws on histories and practices in painting such as abstract minimalism of the ’60s and ’70s, quietly positioning an apparent similarity to these real world objects which are rudimentary tools for identification,” according to Karma.
“Schnabel uses the potential of abstract painting and turns these pictures into a narrative that invites new interpretations of image and space,” states the gallery.
In conjunction with the show, Karma has also published a comprehensive monograph titled “Draw A Family”—the title of one of the artist’s first paintings. The monograph includes work spanning the last 40 years and aims to underscore Schnabel's "impact and guidance on painting today”. www.karmakarma.org.
“An Artist Has a Past” at Dallas Contemporary
“An Artist Has a Past (Puffy Clouds and Strong Cocktails)” at Dallas Contemporary (161 Glass Street in the Dallas Design District) features 15 large-scale paintings from the past decade that incorporate discovered objects and images.
Peter Doroshenko, Director of Dallas Contemporary, calls Schnabel "one of the most important and influential artists living today” and “a seminal figure for all current painters.”
“This exhibition will demonstrate Schnabel's vision and commitment to exploring new avenues of painting in every possible permutation of what a painting can be and what the artist’s role is in society,” he writes about the exhibition. “It is particularly appropriate that a major exhibition of Schnabel's work should be organized at this point in his life, considering his deep roots in Texas.”
Exhibited in the show are Untitled (Chinese) (2011), from a group of works inspired by an antique Chinese mirror; Untitled (Goya) (2007), a painting on a found awning, burnt by the sun and from a butcher shop in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco; and Untitled (Goodbye Mike Kelley) (2012), made shortly after the death of artist Mike Kelley. The work incorporates a historical painting of the Revolutionary War on printed Dufour wallpaper.
“An Artist Has a Past (Puffy Clouds and Strong Cocktails)” is the first museum exhibition in the United States of Schnabel's recent paintings from the last 10 years.
In 1987, Schnabel's work was the subject of a traveling museum exhibition curated by Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate Modern, and Dominique Bozo, then president of the Centre Pompidou.
The exhibition began at the Whitechapel Gallery (London) and traveled to Centre Georges Pompidou, (Paris), Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (Düsseldorf), Whitney Museum of American Art (New York City), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco) and concluded at the Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), where Schnabel once lived as a young painter.
Dallas Contemporary, founded in 1978, is a non-collecting art museum presenting exhibitions of regional, national and international artists. www.dallascontemporary.org.
“View of Dawn in the Tropics” at Gagosian West 24th Street
“View of Dawn in the Tropics”—with an opening reception set for Thursday, April 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. at 555 West 24th Street—features paintings made in 1989-1990. All are being shown for the first time in New York City.
The paintings were selected to reveal Schnabel's diverse working methods and reveal how chance and circumstance translated into paintings. Marked by improvisional daring and expressed with an attitude of baroque excess, the paintings channel life's "grand themes: sexuality, obsession, suffering, redemption, death and belief," according to Gagosian.
Happenstance and seizing the opportunity of circumstance reveal Schnabel's artmaking methods and an authenticity of gesture in paintings that reflect an interplay of intentions and intersection of environment and mark making.
Paintings With and Without Bingo and Ozymandias were both made en plein air on the site of a ruined neoclassical building during a sojourn in Florida, explained the gallery.
"Schnabel used old tarpaulins, sailcloth, and rolls of velvet as grounds on which to render reflections of his immediate surroundings subject to uncontrollable forces, from tropical storms to his dog Bingo's seemingly random but deliberate paw prints," according to the exhibition release.
"These paintings, and others made in similarly unorthodox conditions in Montauk and San Sebastian, reveal an individualistic interplay between site and mark-making, both intentional and incidental, that eschews pictorial hierarchies of authorship, subject, and style,” according to the gallery.
Gagosian Gallery has galleries located in New York, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Rome, Athens, Gevena and Hong Kong. The gallery was founded in 1979 by its director Larry Gagosian. www.gagosian.com
“Every Angel Has a Dark Side” at Dairy Art Centre
In London, “Julian Schnabel: Every Angel Has a Dark Side” is the artist’s first major solo exhibition of paintings in the United Kingdom for nearly 15 years. The exhibition brings together new and rarely seen works created within the last two decades and serves as “...both a re-evaluation and a celebration of Julian Schnabel the painter—his primary occupation.”
Schnabel is known for his wide range of subject matter and visual motifs. At the Dairy Art Centre, his paintings examine themes of ‘The Painter and the Painting,’ and ‘Spirituality and the Sublime.’
These will be contrasted with series of paintings that incorporate oriental imagery, expressive abstraction and portraits of the artist.
“This exhibition is a celebration of the artist’s primary and beloved medium of painting, and we are honoured to dedicate the show to Schnabel’s recent and lesser-known body of works spanning the last two decades," offered Dairy Art Centre founders Frank Cohen and Nicolai Frahm on the gallery's website.
"Widely recognised as a modern day Renaissance man, incorporating painting, architecture, sculpture, film and photography into his oeuvre, Schnabel has gained a cult following amongst a generation of young artists and filmmakers alike,” offered the founders.
In addition to presenting recent and lesser known older works, the exhibition aims to raise a dialogue on what constitutes a painting and the forms it may take.
"As an artist Schnabel has invented new boundaries and categories of what a painting can be," according to the Dairy Art Centre. "His work is both abstract and figurative, often manifesting both characteristics simultaneously."
Situated in Bloomsbury in London nearby the British Museum, the Dairy Art Centre opened one year ago, in April 2013. A non-profit art center with free admission for all, the Dairy occupies a 12,500-square foot milk deposit formerly used by Express Dairies.
As a private initiative founded by collectors Frank Cohen and Nicolai Frahm, the Dairy Art Centre cemented the two men’s “lifelong passion for art and their commitment to sharing this with the rest of the world,” according to the website. www.dairyartcentre.org.uk
The 5.58-minute video by Porfirio Munoz reveals Julian Schnabel making painting in his studio in Montauk, NY. It is presented by Nowness.com.
In the video, Schnabel described his painting process this way:
"My notion of painting has to do with freedom. I see opportunity everywhere, as paintings. In images that already exist, in surfaces that will respond to paint in a certain way, or it might come from an accident."
Julian Schnabel was born in New York City in 1951 and studied at the University of Houston (1969–73) and the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program (1973–74).
Public collections include Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York); Museum of Contemporary Art and the Broad Art Foundation (Los Angeles); National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.); Tate Gallery (London); Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris); and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid).
Solo exhibitions include Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2003); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2004); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2004); Mostra d'Oltramare, Naples (2005); Schloss Derneburg, Germany (2007); Tabacalera Donostia, San Sebastian, Spain (2007); Beijing World Art Museum (2007); Saatchi Gallery, London (2008); Art Gallery of Ontario (2010); Museo Correr, Venice (2011); Centro Italiano Arte Contemporanea, Foligno, Italy (2013); and Brant Foundation Art Study Center (2013–14).
Schnabel is based in New York City and Montauk, NY.
“Flag Paintings” by Julian Schnabel
March 26-April 26, 2014
39 Great Jones Street, New York, NY 10012
“An Artist Has a Past (Puffy Clouds and Strong Cocktails)”
April 11-August 10, 2014
161 Glass Street, Dallas, TX 75207
“View of Dawn in the Tropics: Paintings, 1989-1990”
April 18-May 31, 2014; opening reception April 17, 4 to 6 p.m.
Gagosian West 24th Street
555 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10011
“Julian Schnabel: Every Angel Has a Dark Side”
April 25-July 27, 2014
Dairy Art Centre
7a Wakefield St, London WC1N 1PG, United Kingdom