Julian Schnabel

Symbol of Actual Life


Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Museum, San Francisco


Press release

Since 1977, Julian Schnabel (b. 1951) has captured people’s imagination with paintings that speak to his incessant appetite for sculptural physicality, material diversity, and pictorial symbolism, resulting in ever more audaciously scaled paintings that oscillate between abstraction and figuration. This exhibition features a new body of work created for the Legion’s Court of Honor. At twenty-four by twenty-four feet, the paintings are both monumental in scale and ephemeral in nature. Exposed to the elements over the four-month run of the exhibition, they aren’t meant to last. The artist has said they “epitomize much of what are the essential characteristics of the smallest and most nascent proposals of how imagery drawing and material could be called a painting.” In addition, Schnabel is also showing eleven paintings from three distinct bodies of work, including a new series of abstractions on Mexican sack linen as well as examples from the Goat Paintings (begun in 2012) and the Jane Birkin series (1990).