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Julian Schnabel

(b. 1951)


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(b New York, 26 Oct. 1951).

American painter (and latterly sculptor and film director). His paintings are typically large and in a Neo-Expressionist vein; often they are on unusual materials such as carpet or velvet, and some of them are heavily encrusted with broken crockery (Humanity Asleep, 1982, Tate, London) or incorporate other three-dimensional objects (sometimes the supports themselves are three-dimensional, with central projections like a chimney breast). In the 1980s he enjoyed a meteoric rise as the most touted figure in the international art world, treated more like a pop star than a painter, and many critics feel that the huge prices his works have fetched depend more on media hype and the investment value of contemporary art than on any intrinsic merit. Robert Hughes, for example, writes that ‘Schnabel's work is to painting what Sylvester Stallone's is to acting—a lurching display of oily pectorals—except that Schnabel makes bigger public claims for himself.’ In 1983 he began making sculpture, and in 1996 he made his debut as a movie director with Basquiat, about the Graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. His third film, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007), has won several prestigious awards.

Subjects: Art.


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