Julian Schnabel

Aktion Paintings 1985-2017 (solo show)
ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus
12 October 2018 - 3 March 2019

Julian Schnabel, installation view, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus
Julian Schnabel, installation view, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus

ARoS Aarhus Art Museum’s major special exhibition for Autumn 2018 offers a retrospective on one of American art’s great heavyweights — the American painter and film director Julian Schnabel (b. 1951).

The exhibition will be the largest presentation ever of this artist in the Nordic region and will be a sweeping tour de force of the artist’s work over several decades. The exhibition has been arranged in close collaboration with the artist himself and will show over 40 large scale works from a career spanning more than 30 years.

Julian Schnabel stands out as the most noteworthy figure in the revival of figurative and narrative painting at the start of the 1980s. A blustering neo-expressionism that emerged after painting had been disavowed for several years in favour of the 1970s more conceptual and, not least, inward-looking art forms.

Julian Schnabel began his artistic career in the US where he, together with a distinguished group of artists that included Jean-Michel Basquiat, strove to return narrative painting and the subjective to art. This had been abandoned for a long period in favour of a decidedly minimalistic and conceptual style. Known in his younger years as New York’s enfant terrible, Julian Schnabel was friends with Andy Warhol and Basquiat and their circle.

Schnabel became world renowned in the early 1980s for his enormous plate paintings that were painted on large shards of broken porcelain. Schnabel had been inspired to create these after visiting Gaudi’s Parc Güell in Barcelona, famed for its mosaic benches. Schnabel won acclaim and success for his use of unconventional and discordant materials such as smashed plates and visitors to the exhibition will encounter a wealth of varying types of painting, encompassing painted plates and old, distressed tarpaulins, canvas and photographic prints.

The exhibition has come about in close collaboration with Julian Schnabel himself and ARoS and the artist have envisaged an innovative architecture that will lead visitors on a journey around Julian Schnabel’s artistic universe.

In a Danish context, the Danish counterparts to Schnabel, De Unge Vilde, have had a substantial impact on shaping Danish art from the 1980s up to today. Danish artists of the 1980s are among the most celebrated Danish artists and their reintroduction of narrative as foundational for the painting has echoes in Danish art even today. Similarly, ARoS has for many years evinced a particular interest in the wild paintings of the 80s that comprise a large part of the museum’s permanent collection.

The neo-expressionism that Schnabel is an exponent of has founded schools of artists ever since and one can see the legacy of Julian Schnabel among young contemporary artists, both Danish and international, making Julian Schnabel more relevant than ever before.

ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus


Julian Schnabel

Julian Schnabel (solo show)
Hall Art Foundation | Schloss Derneburg Museum, Holle
April - October 2019

Julian Schnabel, installation view, Hall Art Foundation | Schloss Derneburg Museum, Derneburg, 2019. Photo: Stefan Neuenhausen. Courtesy of the artist and Hall Art Foundation
Julian Schnabel, installation view, Hall Art Foundation | Schloss Derneburg Museum, Derneburg, 2019. Photo: Stefan Neuenhausen. Courtesy of the artist and Hall Art Foundation

The Hall Art Foundation is pleased to announce an exhibition by American artist Julian Schnabel to be held at its Schloss Derneburg location. Considered to be a figurehead in the resurgence of painting in the late 1970’s, Schnabel continues to create gestural and highly charged work that appropriates ancient and modern literary and cultural references, while conflating the boundary between figuration and abstraction. This exhibition brings together 7 large-scale bronze sculptures installed both indoors and on the adjacent property, together with a series of monumental paintings on found tarpaulin.

In the five part series, Untitled (Treatise on Melancholia) (1989), Schnabel paints on olive green tarpaulin, a material traditionally used by the military, and first sourced by the artist in 1985 while he worked in Mexico. Bold applications of vinyl paint (gesso) are juxtaposed against horizontal bands of heavy and opaque fabric that have been sewn together. With no discernible foreground or background, the intersecting white shapes that might otherwise suggest a landscape or still life, are abstracted.

Untitled (Treatise on Melancholia) (1989), presents a solitary abstract form floating within an undefined field spread over 5 panels. The found tarpaulin is marked with various stains and indentations, traces from its earlier life in Mexico. Schnabel's untraditional selection of material and use of vinyl paint highlights the notion of gesture as both a physical act and as idea.

The Cuartel de Carmen in Seville, Spain is a monastery that was built in 1492 and had been occupied by the military in the beginning of 20th century and abandoned in 1978.  For this exhibition Schnabel made 24 tarp paintings which he considered to be 24 stations of the cross.  In 1979, Schnabel began to incorporate bronze elements in his paintings, and later progressed to monumental sculpture in the early 1980s. Idiota (1989) was first assembled in situ at the Cuartel de Carmen.  This cruciform (or battle standard) was built entirely from material collected from the barracks. A large piece of bronze cast from a slab of wood acts as the standard and displays the title, “IDIOTA” above a series of Spanish names, “Carmen Romero,” “Manuel Benitez,” among others, are the names inscribed on the cross and bronze flags that hang from each arm. The work signifies Schnabel’s affinity for linguistic reference, and for the formal and pictorial quality of the letters themselves.  Besides being an appreciation for those who helped him make the sculpture.

Several bronze sculptures include autobiographical or literary references. MacBeth (1989) is a somber figure cast from a weathered wooden log, bluntly carved into a sulking head and torso and placed on a planked platform. The title of the sculpture, Si Tacuisses (1990) is a shortening of the Latin phrase that continues “…philosophus mansisses” (If you had kept your silence / you would have stayed a philosopher). Or, in other words, “If you had kept your mouth shut they wouldn’t know how dumb you are.” The bronze is cast from the stump of a palm tree, a common icon in Schnabel’s work, realistically rendered with tiny roots on its base and upward growing branches at its peak. A speech bubble assigns an anthropomorphic quality to the work. The declaration, “I went to Tangiers and had dinner with Paul Bowles”, references the American expatriate composer and author, then living in Morocco.

Hall Art Foundation