Birth Name: Julian Schnabel
Born: October 26, 1951, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Education: University of Houston, Houston
Represented by Gagosian Gallery
The emergence of artist Julian Schnabel as a mythical figure was a phenomenon of the modern art world in the 1980s. Once considered the bad boy of the New York art scene, Schnabel seemed to rise to prominence from nowhere. After earning a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Houston, Schnabel toured Europe before returning to his home of New York City. On his journeys both stateside and abroad, while living a bohemian lifestyle, Schnabel tackled many occupations, including cab driver and cook. Once he began painting as a profession, Schnabel's ability for self-promotion propelled him into the limelight.
Enormous canvases filled with vibrant colors and bold strokes typify Schnabel's paintings. With his first exhibition at Mary Boone Gallery in 1980, which launched him into the New York art scene, he gathered a following for his emotion-filled unusual works. By the time he exhibited his work in a show jointly organized by Boone and Leo Castelli in 1981, he had become firmly established, and a clamoring for his neo-expressionist paintings created on and with remarkable surfaces ensued. Schnabel's signature works, both abstract and figurative, have as a base surface either black velvet or broken crockery. Filled with raw emotion, the paintings contain an underlying edge of brutality while still being suffused with energy. Schnabel claims that he's "aiming at an emotional state, a state that people can literally walk into and be engulfed by." The monstrous canvases have elements of collage, yet his arrival as an artist signified the return of painting to an art scene that previously revolved around conceptual and minimalist art.
Exploring other creative outlets, Schnabel turned to film making in the 1990s. He co-wrote and directed the 1996 feature film Basquiat about another famous artist from the 1980s. With his next film, Schnabel told the story of another creative visionary, the Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas, in Before Night Falls (2000) starring Javier Bardem in the lead role. Both Schnabel and Bardem earned much critical acclaim for the film.
In his next cinematic effort, Schnabel directed a film about the challenging true-life story of a French magazine editor who is completely paralyzed except for one eyelid in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007). Using only blinking as a means of communication, the editor dicates his memoir. Schnabel has received several awards for his work on the film, including the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Globe Award. The following year, Schnabel saw the release of his latest directorial project, the concert film Lou Reed's Berlin (2008).
Julian Schnabel lives and works in New York City and Montauk, Long Island.