Julian Schnabel: Deus Ex Machina

Exhibition catalogue, edited by Contemporary Fine Arts Berlin
text (German/English) by Robert Fleck
58 p with 25 coloured illustrations ­
325 x 235 mm, hardcover

ISBN 9-783-86442-014-6

(out of print)

Director’s Cut

With each successive series Julian Schnabel has steering effortlessly clear of mainstream painting. What began in 1978 with the ­fragmentation of the surface via plate pieces glued onto wood ­panels has since developed into a constantly reinvented conjunction of generously ­applied materials, ­materials often alien to painting, and bold marriages of ­pic­tures and surfaces. Interestingly, at the same time, we see in his pictures from the 1970s reflective­ness that characterizes the paint­ings of Sigmar Polke and ­Gerhard ­Richter. And yet Julian Schnabel, a graduate of the Whitney Program in New York, also brings to his work the kind of clarity and ­ex­pansive­ness that the artist Donald Judd, whose studio Schnabel visit­ed ­during his stay at the Whitney Program, once brought to mini­malist sculpture. The collisions in Schnabel’s pic­tures are mostly those of unrelated motifs, lines and bands of ­colour. This event character lends them an innate dramatic tension. Julian Schnabel may, since his heartfelt filmic portrait about fellow artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1996), have enjoyed greater worldwide exposure as a film ­director, but he remains the contemporary ­painter in whose work the dia­logue between the apparent omni­potence of ­modern visual media and the continuous develop­­ment of painterly techniques is most accur­at­ely and decisively repre­sented. The essence of these paintings is that they meet the ­digital world’s imagemaking ­process and its seemingly unusable clichés head on, nimbly creating a fresh, youthfully unabashed counter­-point to it, one that subtly conceals the self-assurance and experi­ence underpinning these pictures.

CFA Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin, 28/4-28/7/2012