Julian Schnabel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Julian Schnabel
Julian Schnabel (Hamptons International Film Festival 2010).jpg
Born (1951-10-26) October 26, 1951 (age 65)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Education University of Houston
Known for Painting, film
Style "Plate paintings"
Movement Neo-expressionism
Spouse(s) Jacqueline Beaurang[1] (divorced); 3 children
Olatz López Garmendia (divorced); 2 children
Website http://www.julianschnabel.com

Julian Schnabel (born October 26, 1951) is an American painter and filmmaker. In the 1980s, Schnabel received international media attention for his "plate paintings"—large-scale paintings set on broken ceramic plates.

Schnabel directed Before Night Falls, which became Javier Bardem's breakthrough Academy Award-nominated role, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which was nominated for four Academy Awards.

He has won the award for best director at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival,[2] a Golden Globe, as well as BAFTA, a César Award, two nominations for the Golden Lion and an Academy Award nomination.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Brooklyn, New York to Esta (née Greenberg) and Jack Schnabel,[3] he moved with his family to Brownsville, Texas in 1965.[4] It was in Brownsville that he spent most of his formative years and where he took up surfing and resolved to be an artist.[5]

He received his B.F.A. at the University of Houston. After graduating, he sent an application to the Independent Study Program (ISP) at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. His application included slides of his work sandwiched between two pieces of bread. He was admitted into the program and studied there from 1973-1975.[4] This is when he met artists as Sigmar Polke and Blinky Palermo. Schnabel worked as a short-order cook and frequented Max's Kansas City, a restaurant-nightclub, while he studied at the Whitney Museum.

In 1975 Schnabel returned to Texas for eight months. A year later he had his first solo museum exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston. In the 1970s, Schnabel traveled twice to Europe, where he was enormously impressed by the work of contemporary German artists like Joseph Beuys and Italian artists as Fra Angelico, Giotto and Caravaggio. It is in Barcelona that Antoni Gaudi's architecture and Park Güell inspired him for his plate paintings.[citation needed]


It was with his first solo show, at the Mary Boone Gallery in 1979, that Schnabel had his breakthrough; all his works were sold in advance. He participated at the Venice Biennale in 1980 with Anselm Kiefer and George Baselitz. 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 was the youngest artist in the legendary exhibition 'A New Spirit in Painting' in the Royal Academy of Arts. His now famous "plate paintings" — large-scale paintings set on broken ceramic plates—received a boisterous and critical reception from the art world. His wild and expressive works were classed as neo-expressionism by art critics. In the years to follow Schnabel's success on the art market would above all be criticised. [6]

Schnabel's style is characterised by very large scale paintings. He uses diverse materials such as plaster, wax, photographs, antlers, velvet and ceramics. His paintings make use of canvas, wood, muslin and even surfboards. His paintings often combine abstract and figurative elements. Due to the size, weight and depth of his works, they are often given sculptural properties.

In 2002, Schnabel painted the cover artwork for the Red Hot Chili Peppers' eighth studio album, By The Way. The woman featured on the cover of By the Way is Julian's daughter, Stella Schnabel, who was band member John Frusciante's then-girlfriend.[59] Regarding the artwork, Frusciante noted: "My girlfriend's father offered to do the album art, so we sent him rough mixes of eight songs, and he just got the vibe of the album from that. He said that he wouldn't be offended if we didn't like it, but we loved what he did. He's also given us great covers for all the singles. He's a true artist."

Schnabel insists he is a painter first and foremost, though he is better known for his films.

In 2011 Museo Correr exhibited Julian Schnabel: Permanently Becoming and the Architecture of Seeing, a selected survey show of Schnabel's career curated by Norman Rosenthal.[8]

Art critic Robert Hughes was one of the most outspoken critics of his work; he once stated that "Schnabel's work is to painting what Stallone's is to acting: a lurching display of oily pectorals." (Time Magazine, August 7, 2012).

Museum collections[edit]

His works are in the collections of various museums throughout the world, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Reina Sofia in Madrid; Tate Modern in London and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.[citation needed]

Schnabel had an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, which ran from September 1, 2010 to January 2, 2011 and occupied the entirety of the gallery's fifth floor. It examined "the rich interplay between Schnabel's paintings and films".[9]


Schnabel begins his film carrier in the 1990s with the film Basquiat, a biopic on the painter Jean-Michel Basquiat (1996), followed by Before Night Falls (2000), an adaptation of Reinaldo Arenas' autobiographical novel, which he also produced, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival. He directed The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007), an adaptation (with a screenplay by Ronald Harwood) of a French memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly earned him the award for best director at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival,[2] the Golden Globe for best director, the Independent Spirit Award for best director, and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director. Schnabel, who designed Lou Reed's critically acclaimed 'Berlin' Tour in 2007, also released 'Berlin the Movie'.[10]

Despite the fact that producing The Diving Bell and the Butterfly might seem like a commission to do someone else's work, Schnabel took on the film. According to Schnabel,

In May 2017, it was reported that Schnabel would return to directing movies. Schnabel announced that he will direct a film about painter, Vincent Van Gogh during time in Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise, France. The film is called At Eternity’s Gate and script was written by Schnabel and famed French screenwriter, Jean-Claude Carrière. Schnabel said, “This is a film about painting and a painter, and their relationship to infinity. It is told by a painter. It contains what I felt were essential moments in his life, this is not the official history — it’s my version. One that I hope could make you closer to him.” Schnabel said he was struck by the painter’s “commitment to something that did not have an audience, or an audience that he was probably never going to meet. When Van Gogh looked at the beauty of nature through painting, it brought him further away from everybody and made it impossible for him to have a real life. The film will shed light on that.” The film will adopt a first-person point of view, as the isolated Van Gogh wanders the countryside, wishing a few people would commune with him like a normal person. Schnabel wants the movie to “exist outside of time,” he said. “There are moments in the script and film where he understands that nobody is going to understand him. He doesn’t care if people understand him. He just wants to be able to paint. For the longest time he was trying to help people and show people something they couldn’t see. That’s a tall order. He also realized he was going to leave something here.” Schnabel also stated that he didn’t like any of the 36 films about Van Gogh’s life. “I don’t think they get it,” he said. “Maybe I have to be a painter to be able to do this film, that’s probably why I’m doing it. I see it the way I make a painting or a work of art.” The filmmaker wants At Eternity’s Gate to make the moviegoer “feel not like you are watching Vincent Van Gogh, but you are living his life,” he said. “We’re not trying to address his whole life story. It’s really about understanding what painting is, what the different language is that is not the same. It’s a painted world, a different way of communicating.” Willem Dafoe will play Van Gogh.[11]

Unrealized Film Projects[edit]


After the completion of Basquiat, Schnabel flirted with the idea of making a film about the famed and widely celebrated (but death-obsessed) Spanish bullfighter, Juan Belmonte who was considered one of the greatest bullfighter in history before and after he committed suicide. Schnabel stated that the origins of thinking of making a film about Belmont started when he made a painting in the early 1990s on bullfighting and the bullfighter and the bull in the arena. Shortly after Before Night Falls was released, Schnabel returned to the idea of making a film about Belmonte’s life. Having a such a great rapport with his Before Night Falls lead, Javier Bardem, Schnabel asked Bardem if would play Belmonte. Bardem agreed. The film was to be based on a novel by Manuel Chaves Nogales on Belmonte and Schnabel co-wrote the script, which was entitled Corrida with Jean-Claude Carrière. However, Schnabel eventually halted the project due to his desire to continue to paint and eventually, the Corrida project never materialized.


In the mid-2000s, Schnabel wanted to direct a film version of the novel Perfume by Patrick Süskind. Schnabel wrote a highly detailed script himself in which it had a stream of consciousness-driven narrative. Schnabel said that he wanted his film be more about the interior desire of the story’s protagonist Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, “the notion wasn't to make the guy more like you or me but to make him different, the way he was. And we had to reorganize our chromosomes, our moral chromosomes, so we could see that orgy is happening, instead being shocked by seeing this, you sit and you're thinking, "Hey, I wanna sit through this and watch because I wanna see if that perfume works!" And so, I had written a script and I thought that this man could smell all the way to Alaska or Egypt”.[12] "I wanted to make Perfume because I thought it was about somebody who created something that was so beautiful that he couldn't share it with anybody, because they fell under the spell of it and they lost their critical faculties. So they never knew, and he couldn't share his accomplishment with anybody. It drove him nuts", said Schnabel. Schnabel also described certain scenes in his script. “it starts with him [Grenouille] climbing up this mountain and than he eats a salamander while he's climbing up this rocky crag and at first you think, "That's a little weird that he did that". And than he jumps up in the sky he throws his arms in the air and than he crawls into this hole. And than, the camera pushes into his head and you start to see inside his head like he's dreaming, you start to go in, or you think a story is going to be told to you and as we push in we see him sitting in some fancy clothes and as he takes a drink from one of these glasses, it has a date on it and it takes you back to this place (sometime in the 18th century), Paris. So, you think that the narrator is this man, who is drinking from those glasses. And if you haven't read the book, you think he must have been a rich guy at one time and then he must of had some trouble and he's telling us a story. That's viable and reasonable interpretation of what you'r seeing. And you watch the movie, and about an hour into the movie, [Grenouille] climbs back on that mountain and gets into the cave and narrator starts to say that he slept for 7 years and he would have stayed there probably for the rest of his life except the fabric of his dream starts to fall apart and he realizes that his scent was a scent afar and that terrified him and as you watch you see the guy who's the narrator starting to crawl up on top on a couch in this library with all the bottles there and everything is turning into, first mist and than the room is starting to disappear and so is he's starting to disappear. And you realize that the narrator was a dream at that point and the guy screams and you see this hole and you see the landscape and the next thing you see is just a P.O.V. that's running down a hill until finally the sky arrives at somewhere where people from their villages start running away from him. And the next thing you see is a sack over the head of the camera and a 'clunk' and you hear somebody saying, "His journeyman's papers". And the next thing you see is Christopher Walken standing in front saying, "Okay, let's look at him." And they take the sack cloth off his head and you see a guy with a long beard, talons for fingernails and then your story begins and so what you wouldn't know is that the narrator was a dream and in the process of doing that I had written the scene where you see Egypt, you see Alaska.” Bernd Eichinger, who owned the rights to the novel at the time, disliked Schnabel's script and two had a series of disputes over the project. Schnabel’s version was Perfume was never made but Schnabel did eventually transferred his unique approach of his ‘’Perfume’’ script into his 2007 film, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Ned Kelly[edit]

In the early-2000s, Schnabel toyed with the idea of making a film about the infamous Australian bushranger, Ned Kelly based Peter Carey's historical novel on Kelly. Schnabel made a painting based on the image of Kelly’s helmet, in the late 1980s, which Kelly frequently wore while committing his crimes in the Australian wild. Schnabel eventually contacted the actor, Heath Ledger to possibly star in the film as Kelly. Ledger was reported to be intrigued in the project. However, the project never went any further other than just discussions and Schnabel’s Kelly film never took place. Eventually, Ledger did star in a film version of Ned Kelly in a 2003 film version about Ned Kelly but without Schnabel’s involvement or influence.

The Master and Margarita and In the Hand of Dante[edit]

In 2011, Schnabel was interested in directing two projects. One was a film version of the satirical Faustian Russian novel, The Master and Margarita. But Schnabel eventually didn’t want to tackle such an ambitious and colossal undertaking in adapting and filming such a large and dense project. The second project that Schnabel was interested in directing was Nick Tosches’s novel, In the Hand of Dante. Johnny Depp’s production company, Infinitum Nihil, bought the rights to book in 2008. Schnabel said, “It belongs to Johnny, but I’m not going to make it for a couple of years. We’re gonna work on writing it, developing it. We didn’t sign anything. It’s just something Johnny asked me to read and I think it’s a great book…”[13] The novel is a multi-generational narrative revolving around Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.  The novel intertwines three characters from three different eras. The initial intention with the project was to have Johnny Depp produce the film and to play all three leads. However, Schnabel stated “I’m not going to make it for a couple of years. We’re [Schnabel and Depp] gonna work on writing it, developing it. We didn’t sign anything. It’s just something Johnny asked me to read and I think it’s a great book…”[14]

The Recognitions[edit]

Another dream project that Schnabel wanted to direct some day in the future is a film adaptation of 1955 novel, The Recognitions by William Gaddis, which Schnabel has said, on several occasions, is a “very important book to me” and a personal one, as well. The story is about a young artist who leaves his family and home to travel across the world and seeing the world with fresh new eyes and gaining flashes of inspiration. Schnabel has only wrote drafts of a script of The Recognitions but said that one day, he would love to write and direct a film version of the novel.

Writing and recording[edit]

Schnabel published his autobiography, CVJ: Nicknames of Maitre D's & Other Excerpts From Life (Random House, New York), in 1987 and released the album Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud on Island Records (Catalog #314-524 111-2) in 1995.

Recorded in Brooklyn, New York, in 1993, the album features guest musicians including Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrell, Buckethead, and Nicky Skopelitis.

Personal life[edit]

Schnabel lives in New York, maintaining studios in New York City and in Montauk on the far eastern end of Long Island. He also has a home in San Sebastián in the Basque Country.[5] He has three children by his first wife, clothing designer Jacqueline Beaurang: two daughters, Lola, a painter and film-maker, Stella, a poet and actress, and a son, Vito, an art dealer.[15]

He has twin sons, Cy and Olmo, by his second wife, Spanish Basque actress Olatz López Garmendia. Garmendia appeared in Before Night Falls, and as Bauby's physical therapist in The Diving Bell.[5]

Schnabel's cousin is New York-based poet Kenneth Goldsmith.[16]

His collaboration with Rula Jebreal, who penned the screenplay and original source novel for Schnabel's film Miral, extended beyond the movie. Schnabel was in a relationship with her from 2007 to June 2011.[17]

Since 2012, Schnabel has been dating May Andersen, a former model and assistant director at the Hole Gallery. Schnabel and Andersen have one son, Shooter, who was born in August 2013.[18]

Schnabel resides at 360 West 11th Street, in a former West Village horse stable that he purchased and converted for residential use, adding five luxury condominiums in the style of a Northern Italian palazzo. It is named the Palazzo Chupi, and it is easy to spot because it is painted pink.[19]

The building is controversial in its Greenwich Village neighborhood because it was built taller than a rezoning, happening at the same time as the construction began, allowed. Neighbors also alleged illegal work done on the site. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and allies called on the city for stricter enforcement, but Schnabel's home eventually rose to the 167 feet he desired, rather than the new 75-foot limit imposed by the Far West Village downzoning of 2005.[20]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ New York Magazine. Books.google.ca. 1992-05-18. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  2. ^ a b "Festival de Cannes: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-12-18. 
  3. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths - Schnabel, Esta". New York Times. November 19, 2002. Retrieved 2010-10-30. Devoted mother to Andrea, Stephen, Julian. 
  4. ^ a b "The double life of Julian: how the bad boy painter turned fêted director". London, UK: The Independent. 2007-05-29. Archived from the original on July 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-05. 
  5. ^ a b c Brown, Mick (January 19, 2008). "Julian Schnabel: Larging It". London, UK: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  6. ^ "Julian Schnabel: dedications". Julian Schnabel. Retrieved September 21, 2016. 
  7. ^ Linda Yablonsky (February 11, 2008). "Conversation With Julian Schnabel". ART+AUCTION. Retrieved September 21, 2016. 
  8. ^ Morgan, Robert C. "In Venice: Schnabel and the Persistence of Art". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved September 21, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Julian Schnabel: Art and Film | AGO Art Gallery of Ontario". Ago.net. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  10. ^ "Berlin". Archived from the original on March 9, 2008. 
  11. ^ http://www.indiewire.com/2017/05/willem-dafoe-vincent-van-gogh-julian-schnabel-cannes-1201830860/
  12. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmKa0GhoRWA
  13. ^ http://collider.com/in-the-hand-of-dante-johnny-depp-julian-schnabel/
  14. ^ http://www.slashfilm.com/julian-schnabel-prepping-hand-dante-johnny-depp/
  15. ^ "The Schnabel Family".  The New York Observer
  16. ^ "Kenneth Goldsmith post on Facebook". Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  17. ^ Enk, Bryan (2011-04-20). "Movie Blogs". Blog.movies.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  18. ^ "Artist Julian Schnabel and model May Andersen engaged". Nypost.com. 2012-11-21. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  19. ^ Barbanel, Josh (2009-12-06). "Price Cuts of a Princely Kind". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  20. ^ "Preservation Alert - Julian Schnabel". Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 

External links[edit]