Julian Schnabel’s Resurrection: Albert Finney meets Malcolm Lowry, Painting for Mickey Rourke for his Performance in Rumble Fish and Procession (For Jean Vigo) are on display for a limited time as part of the exhibition Julian Schnabel: Art and Film.
From the beginning, Julian Schnabel’s painting has embraced, reflected upon and at times explicitly celebrated particular films and individual actors, even calling attention to specific performances. Hollywood movies were one of the few forms of visual media that were readily available to Schnabel while growing up in Brooklyn and Texas. As a young artist he viewed everything from mainstream to avant-garde films, and these cinematic experiences conditioned his pictorial sensibility.
These paintings refer to two actors, two films, an author and a film director. In one, Albert Finney, star of the 1984 film Under the Volcano, encounters Malcolm Lowry, the author of the 1947 book upon which the film was based. Another is dedicated to a young Mickey Rourke, for his performance as Motorcycle Boy in Francis Ford Coppola’s Rumble Fish. The subject of the third is influential French film director Jean Vigo, who was only 29 when he died. Schnabel painted this work when he himself was on the verge of turning 29.
Julian Schnabel’s Jerusalem (Gate Painting) and Palestine (Gate Painting) are on display for a limited time as part of the exhibition Julian Schnabel: Art and Film.
In 1988, Schnabel traveled to Jerusalem to attend an opening of an exhibition of his paintings at the Israel Museum. Later that year, he responded to the experience by creating two paintings: Jerusalem Gate and Palestine Gate. Almost twenty years later he encountered the book Miral by Palestinian writer and journalist Rula Jebreal. The book offered Schnabel the possibility to return to the ideas of threshold, division and difference that he explored in the “gate” paintings and which inspired his most recent film. Miral chronicles the lives of Palestinian women from 1948 – following the partition of Palestine and establishment of the state of Israel – until the present day.
The film opens with the story of Hind Husseini, a Palestinian woman who establishes a school for Palestinian orphans in Jerusalem. As the film moves through time, we encounter the title character, Miral, a pupil of the school who grows up sheltered from the conflict occurring just outside the school’s gates. However, as a teenager, she is awakened to the realities of her people’s struggle and finds herself torn between the fight for the future of the Palestinian people and Hind Husseini’s belief that education is the road to peace.
The day fellow artist Jean-Michel Basquiat died, Schnabel painted this enormous tarpaulin work. In the upper right corner Schnabel inscribed the letters JMB and beneath it, in much smaller scale, the date Aug 12. This painting declares the enduring presence of the absent artist through the initials of his name, it commemorates the day of his death, and through its white paint, expresses a metaphor of Basquiat’s life lived – jagged, ascendant, infinite. In spare terms yet on a monumental scale, Schnabel achieves a funereal ode to another artist, which serves as a precursor to his first film.
The Patients and the Doctors is Schnabel’s first plate painting. “It was that radical moment that an artist waits for,” he later recalled. By affixing broken plates to the canvas, he destroys the illusion of reality that a representational painting traditionally attempts to create. His smashed shards do not merely represent reality, they are of reality. This breakthrough work heralded his originality, and paintings like this one propelled him to the centre of the 1980s international art world. After Schnabel completed this painting, various possible titles flashed through his mind, which he penned in his notebook:
Painting for the Italian Cinema
Painting for the French Cinema
Painting for the American Cinema
Roman Holiday #2
The Patients and the Doctors
Playboy in a Sportscar
Still Life Kathy
Even at this early moment in his artistic career, Schnabel was thinking about film and relying upon cinema to fuel his pictorial and narrative imagination.
Julian Schnabel’s Untitled (Mickey Rourke) and Untitled (Christopher Walken) are on display for a limited time as part of the exhibition Julian Schnabel: Art and Film.
Although Schnabel considers himself first and foremost a painter, his filmmaking efforts have been acclaimed by the film world. Once Schnabel began to make his first feature, it became clear to him that the film world was comprised of people with whom he had an immediate rapport. These portraits are of the personalities who inform Schnabel’s creative universe: actors and friends such as Mickey Rourke and Christopher Walken among others. Schnabel’s large-format Polaroid photographs capture intimate moments with his friends and colleagues.
Julian Schnabel’s Painting for Malik Joyeux and Bernardo Bertolucci (V) and Painting for Malik Joyeux and Bernardo Bertolucci (VI) are on display for a limited time as part of the exhibition Julian Schnabel: Art and Film.
These two paintings are dedicated to two seemingly divergent personalities: Malik Joyeux, a professional surfer, and Bernardo Bertolucci, a renowned Italian filmmaker. With this title, Schnabel links the artistry and risk-taking of filmmaking to surfing, another one of his passions.
Like film, surfing has been a visual thread throughout Schnabel’s artistic practice. Water and surfing act as a metaphor for freedom of the imagination. In his film Basquiat (1996), the title character looks upward and sees surfers streaming across the sky in Technicolor. When Jean-Do, the paralyzed protagonist of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007), realizes he still has the beautiful power of his mind, he sees himself surfing massive waves. These paintings are a meditation on the beauty of human life as embodied by three of Schnabel’s passions: art, film and surfing.
Audio: Listen to Julian Schnabel discuss these works:
Julian Schnabel’s Untitled (Self-Portrait) and Portrait of Andy Warhol are on display for a limited time as part of the exhibition Julian Schnabel: Art and Film.
In this 2005 self-portrait, Schnabel looks out, brush in hand, to another moment in time: his painting of Andy Warhol from 1982. Schnabel painted Warhol on black velvet, a lonely figure against a black screen, while he paints himself in his element: outdoors, backed by a breezy blue sky. Warhol’s thirst for creative outlets and his ability to create in many modes (printmaking, painting, film, photography, music production, writing) has always appealed to Schnabel, who came to know Warhol well in the 1980s. Schnabel shares Warhol’s enthusiasm for exploring the expressive and artistic potential of many different media. Although Warhol is best known today for his iconic silk-screen canvases, he was also a pioneering filmmaker. His revolutionary approach to filmmaking, treating the camera as a purely creative tool, served as a key influence for Schnabel.
Audio: Listen to Julian Schnabel discuss these and other portraits:
As with Schnabel’s two previous films, his third is a biographical ode to an accomplished person who meets an untimely death. In 1995 a massive stroke left 43-year-old Jean-Dominique Bauby, the stylish editor of French fashion magazine Elle, completely paralyzed. He dictated his memoir while in the hospital by blinking it out, letter by letter, from his single functioning eye. He died only 10 days after its publication.
Schnabel’s filmic interpretation of Bauby’s book received international critical acclaim from the moment it premiered at Cannes, where Schnabel won Best Director. The Diving Bell was also awarded Golden Globes for best picture and best director and received four Academy Award nominations.
Marlon Brando (1924–2004) is another movie figure who looms large in the psyche of Schnabel – from Brando’s early tour de force performances in such films as The Fugitive Kind and On the Waterfront, where themes of alienation and otherness are explored, to seminal character roles in The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. Here Schnabel chose to work with images of Brando on the set of the 1968 psychedelic cult classic Candy. “I love Marlon Brando. I loved him as an actor,” Schnabel explains. “I felt so much, such a connection to him. To watch him through his life and endure tragedies in his life, the light that shined out of this guy and the loneliness that engulfed him later.” In homage to the late actor, Schnabel bought a pair of Brando’s boxing gloves at auction, and hung them in his lead character’s hospital room in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Audio: Listen to Julian Schnabel discuss this work:
Why Jane Birkin? Because of her luminous appearance in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up (1966), the iconic film that defined swinging London. And because of her talent as a songstress, performing sultry duets with French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg. For Schnabel her name is a code, letters to be written out in paint, to evoke memories, intrigue, passion, a melody. This work is part of a series of enormous works, all painted on reclaimed Egyptian sails. It is a testament to memory, as Schnabel transforms a used expanse of fabric into a remembrance of a perfect feeling at a perfect moment in time, sensed through watching a film or hearing a song and visualized through painting.
Audio: Listen to Julian Schnabel discuss this work: