Julian Schnabel (b. 1951, Brooklyn, NY) is one of the most seminal and virtuosic artists working today. His multidisciplinary practice extends beyond painting to include sculpture, film, architecture and furniture. He is an award winning movie director but primarily a painter. His use of preexisting materials not traditionally used in art making, varied painting surfaces and inventive modes of construction were pivotal in the reemergence of painting in the United States in the late 1970’s and the rest of the world. In 1978, he began to make Plate Paintings, imagic works with sculptural surfaces produced by layering shards of broken dishes with thick applications of auto body putty, dental plaster and oil paint on wooden structures. His unorthodox, highly experimental approach to use of materials, gestures and form and large scale and shaped paintings have blurred the distinction between abstraction and figuration, making the battle between the two obsolete. Throughout his practice, he sustained the use of objet trouvé and chance-based processes, transforming painting and opening the door for new generations of young painters today.
"Emerging from an American artistic tradition that deliberately challenged reigning ideas of surface and form in paintings, since the late 1970s the artist has sought to transform the realities and possibilities of the medium: what a painting is, what it can be, and how it can be done . . . Free of precisionist or calculated formulas, Schnabel’s works become receivers for a poetry that is both personal and universal. In his case, intentionally painting the unknowable yields a more faithful representation of experience than any attempt to realistically depict the physical world ever could."
— Max Hollein
"The surfaces look physically quite turbulent . . . That makes the surface restless and adventurous. They also seem impatient. Julian is an eager painter who cannot wait to finish a painting. Such urgency increases the restlessness of their appearance . . . I wanted to explain things, but forgot that an artist at work is not at all concerned with the state of art in general. That is art that already exists. Julian in his studio, however, was looking for a painting that had never been made before. Nothing less."
— Rudi Fuchs