January 10, 2008

Fathoming the depths of Schnabelia

"Julian Schnabel: Navigation Drawings," Sperone Westwater, New York, NY. Through Feb. 16.

In the catalog for the show, Sounding in Fathoms: Julian Schnabel’s Recent Navigation Drawings, David Moos writes that "Schnabel’s work is rooted in exploring and trying to define the difference between epiphany and the commonplace. In his recent series of drawings on nautical maps this tension is articulated in direct terms. Often a single gesture or cluster of painterly forms depicts the painter’s presence, a compressed or distilled essence…Through his treatment each map becomes a backdrop for events – pictorial events that he acts out, inviting narrative."

On artnet, snarky Charlie Finch didn't find the work so deep. "To own a work by Schnabel is not really owning a work of art. It is more like having a souvenir from the circus. The ringmaster himself was giving a tour of the drawings, as the usual crowd of hangers-on littered the room: Harvey Keitel, Dick Cavett, Charlie Rose. Pointing at the blobs of flesh and yellow paint with which he defaced a map of Hawaii, Schnabel announced to the crowd that he had been inspired by a sunset....He has a beautiful building, a gorgeous family, a fine new movie and a chorus line of celebrity admirers. We should be happy to take home an old map smeared with fingerpaint, at whatever the cost. Pass the popcorn." Read more.

Don't miss the James Kalm video of the Schnabel opening, which features Schnabel signing autographs, and a stop-and-chat with Charlie Finch and his wife, art dealer Marion Callis.

Related posts:
Rave reviews for Schnabel's new film in which a paralysed man dictates a memoir with his eyeball

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