Friday, May 08, 2015

Arty Farty Friday ~ Julian Schnabel

Although the name did ring a distant bell in my head, I really knew nothing about artist and film maker Julian Schnabel before beginning this post. Schnabel's heyday seems to have been during the 1980s. As well as for his artwork, he's known for the films he has directed: Before Night Falls, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the latter was nominated for four Academy Awards. Schnabel insists he is a painter first and foremost though. His artwork includes a series of "plate paintings", large-scale and set on broken ceramic plates. "Painting is like breathing to me. It’s what I do all the time. Every day I make art, whether it is painting, writing or making a movie". See Wikipedia.
Schnabel's signature works contain an underlying edge of brutality, while remaining suffused with compositional energy. Schnabel claims that he's aiming at an emotional state, a state that people can literally walk into and be engulfed.

A reputation for making brash pronouncements about his importance to the art world - I'm the closest thing to Picasso that you'll see in this fucking life - engendered contempt from both colleagues and the viewing public.

It isn't possible, from posting small images here to get a proper idea of Schnabel's paintings, which are all quite huge. This page at Arts Observer shows a few of his paintings in slightly bigger format than I can; and see the artist's own website. Alternatively, Google Image shows many examples, with access to enlargements.

In 1987 Kristine McKenna, in the LA times article - Julian Schnabel - Artist as Bad Boy began:
Around 1980 the art world became much more corporate and big-business tactics began to be used, and Julian was blamed for a lot of that. But he really did open things up for other artists. "

.......The only thing everyone agrees on when it comes to Julian Schnabel is that it's essential to have an opinion about him. An audacious young painter who skyrocketed to stardom in the early '80s, Schnabel reintroduced the grand, romantic gesture to an art world starving on a diet of '70s Minimalism, and grateful collectors ravenous for high drama feasted at his table. The fact that Schnabel was a flamboyant bon vivant who carried himself more like a pop star than a painter made him an attractive piece of work to the press, which anointed him as the first certifiable art star of the decade.

An outspoken man of provocative opinions, Schnabel titillated the press with his stormy relationships, and his feuds--with dealers Mary Boone and Leo Castelli, and artists Robert Longo, Eric Fischl and David Salle, among others--are well documented. Schnabel resisted, for example, being included in a 1985 Calendar article on young New York artists because, he said, he didn't want to be "corralled with the other jerks."
And ended:
However, for every critical dissection of Schnabel's work, there are reams of outraged prose attacking his personal style. In wading through the volumes that have been written about him, one is struck by the fact that people object to Schnabel not so much for his work but because he somehow violates the mysterious code of behavior that governs the art world. Dozens of lesser artists are allowed to crank out mediocre product in peace, but when it comes to Schnabel, the umpire invariably cries "Foul!"

Ingrid Sischy 's piece in a 2008 issue of Vanity Fair, The Artist in Residence tells of Schnabel's
home, Palazzo Chupi:
...a Pompeii-red palazzo, atop an early-20th-century factory building on the western edge of Greenwich Village. ............
The artist Julian Schnabel is famous—too famous—for possessing such a big ego that he thinks he can do anything....... a stop-you-in-your-tracks work of architecture he’s just now finishing up in Greenwich Village. Plunked smack on top of the early-20th-century factory building where the artist has long lived and worked on far West 11th Street is a Pompeii-red palazzo, stuccoed on the outside, with five huge residences, plus a studio for Schnabel, some serious exhibition space, and a swimming pool fit for Citizen Kane. The place looks as if it began life in Venice on the Grand Canal, somehow floated up the Hudson River, moored on the West Side Highway, then hoisted itself atop its three-story “pedestal.” The building even has a fanciful name, announced on its front: Palazzo Chupi, after the nickname of Schnabel’s Spanish wife, Olatz.
"I do what I want and I guess that makes some people nervous," says the 36-year-old artist during a conversation at his cavernous Manhattan studio.

Adding to the air of eccentricity Schnabel enjoys, he wears pyjamas as daywear.


Born on 26 October 1951 in Brooklyn, New York - no time of birth is known, chart is set for noon.

 Hat-tip for photograph  HERE
I wouldn't immediately see this as the natal chart of an out-and-out eccentric - Schnabel isn't one of those anyway. True eccentrics don't know they are being eccentric, Schnabel knows exactly what he's doing when he acts in ways that are not "mainstream", even for those in his arty farty circles.

The Scorpio/Virgo mix, which makes up a large part of his personality, isn't as contrasting as one might at first suspect. The intensity and passion of Scorpio Sun/Mercury can sit fairly easily with Moon/Mars/Venus in Virgo's demands to organise, work hard, seek perfection.

The undercurrent of non-mainstream in Schnabel's nature comes, I believe, from Uranus, the planet of eccentricity in Cancer, situated in sextile to his Virgo cluster, and in trine to Mercury in Scorpio.

Jupiter, planet of excess and expansiveness, out on its own in Aries, seems to form a "handle" or "funnel" for the main grouping of his natal planets, as well as sitting in opposition to Saturn, planet of restriction and structure. Schnabel's large-scale artwork smells of Jupiter to me! The Jupiter-Saturn opposition adds a little something to that non-mainstream undercurrent already mentioned - it's a symbolic tug-of-war between opposite traits: expansiveness and restriction.


Sonny G said...

and he's such a snappy dresser too. lol

mike said...

An interesting fellow that I had brief exposure over the years. I recall the "Vanity Fair" piece, because I admired the Palazzo Chupi article. I am greatly attracted to urban space that has distinctive architectural character, beauty, and a magical feel set amongst the concrete squareness-triteness of brick & mortar.

As for his paintings, I find them contrived and on the coattails of predecessors, but that might be expected of the neo-expressionists, which on-the-whole, I've never been fond. Schnabel is obviously multi-talented and painting is one facet of his pursuits. I'm more attracted to his other outlets...LOL.

The excerpt you provide indicates his fame began around 1980, which coincides with transiting Pluto conjunct natal Neptune, N Node was conjunct his Pluto, Uranus square his Pluto, and Neptune was trine his Pluto...astrological indicators of a claim to fame.

I can add to your very good astrological assessment that his final dispositors are Sun and Pluto in mutual reception...someone with a bigger-than-life ego in the eyes of the collective. I suspect he's a savvy business person and has a knack for knowing the accoutrements of salesmanship. I agree with you that he knows exactly what he's doing.

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ His life is one long pyjama party by the looks of it! :-)

Twilight said...

mike ~ I agree, I like his architectural and stylistic daring too, but his paintings - not so much. Maybe "you really have to be there" to appreciate some of them. Hard to say.

Thanks on the astro-front - yes, he's certainly a larger-than-life figure. Although - in that brief video I've posted he came over as a more subdued character than I'd expected.

In some photos he reminds me of Peter Ustinov - in looks - something about the eyes I think.

JD said...

I saw some of Schnabel's 'paintings' in an exhibition in Madrid in 1983.
I was underwhelmed by the whole thing not just his stuff.

The only pictures I liked were those of Kenny Scharf; they were amusing and completely out of step with the mood of all the others.

Here is a glimpse of the catalogue for the show.

And here's a link to Scharf's madcap pictures :)

Twilight said...

JD ~ Hi - nice to see ya!
Thanks for the links. I doubt I'd have been too keen on most of the paintings in the exhibition you visited. Scharf's are wonderfully colourful and imaginative - that's a plus! If I can find birth data for him he could be an interesting subject for a future Arty Farty Fri.

I do have a print in our kitchen of a Keith Haring painting (he's one listed in the catalogue) - I found it a few years ago in a very junky antiquey store in north Texas, pushed under a low table, beer spattered and filthy. Husband said - that looks like a Keith Haring print - not knowing anything about him but noting the price was within my budget (either $10 or $15 I think) I bought it. On cleaning it up we found it to be very nicely framed in a specially Haring-pattered frame, and the print stamped with the official Haring estate stamp - so I think it must have originated from an exhibition somewhere.

Oh look - I did a post about it in 2010