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Julian Schnabel

Painter, sculptor and graphic artist, Julian Schnabel (b.1951, New York) is one of the most well-known representatives of Neo-Expressionism from New York in the 1980s. Among the most prolific of the Post-Modernist generation, he is also one of its most controversial artists. Along with painters like Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Salle, and in response to the intellectual asceticism of Minimalism and Conceptual art, Schnabel tries to give back to painting its expressive and emotional values, using in an exuberant way new materials, large formats and vast thematic fields. He began his career as a film director in the 1990s, making a number of feature films, among them Basquiat (1996), on the New York art scene that he knew so well.

After painting for several years on the surfaces of broken plates, his famous ‘plate paintings’, Schnabel started to work with other materials that, because of their history, are full of connotations, like used tarpaulins or liturgical elements from the Catholic Church. Hector (1989) is a good example. Two rounded white shapes create, with their parallel shift, a depth in the pictorial space that constitutes the surface of a non-painted brown tarpaulin. In the middle, the artist has fixed the embroidered frieze of a baldachin originally from a Spanish Baroque church, partly concealed by a wide painted white line. The title, without any obvious connection to the painting, might refer to the hero of the Trojan War, but also perhaps to the artist’s friend, the Brazilian film director Héctor Babenco. Bringing together suggestive forms with elements laden with history and an evocative title, Schnabel created an artwork with a meaning both open and dense.


  1. Julian Schnabel Hector, 1989

    Technique mixte sur bâche
    335 x 498 cm
    Collection Mudam Luxembourg
    Acquisition 1997
    Apport FOCUNA
    © Photo : Rémi Villaggi

Marina Abramović, "Video Portrait Gallery", 1975-1998 | Collection Mudam Luxembourg | Acquisition 2001
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