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Art Gallery of Ontario Announces Major Julian Schnabel Exhibition
Julian Schnabel with Benicio Del Toro on the set of Basquiat. © 2010 Julian Schnabel.

TORONTO.- American art superstar Julian Schnabel has spent his life pushing the limits of painting and crossing artistic boundaries as an award-winning filmmaker. Now, for the first time, a major retrospective examines the connections between painting and film in Schnabel’s work, tracing how his paintings exist in dialogue with the cinema and revealing the rich interplay between the two media. Julian Schnabel: Art and Film will occupy the entire fifth floor of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Vivian & David Campbell Centre for Contemporary Art from September 1, 2010 through January 2, 2011.

The exhibition surveys Schnabel’s work as a painter from the mid-1970s to the present and features more than 25 key works, including: several celebrated plate paintings (The Patients and the Doctors, 1978); paintings on velvet (Portrait of Andy Warhol, 1982) and sailcloth (Jane Birkin #2, 1990); monumental 22-by-22-foot canvasses (Anno Domini, 1990); and recent gesso-and-ink paintings on polyester, including examples from the 2006 Surfing Paintings series that Schnabel dedicated to legendary Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci. Other key cinematic figures on display include Marlon Brando, Albert Finney, Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Mickey Rourke, Christopher Walken, and Rula Jebreal, with whom he wrote the screenplay for his newest film, Miral, which is based on her novel.

“The AGO is committed to examining great works of art from innovative and thought-provoking new perspectives,” says Matthew Teitelbaum, the AGO’s Michael and Sonja Koerner Director, and CEO. “Julian Schnabel is one of the world’s leading artists, and the AGO is excited to offer this invigorating new context in which to consider his unique and dynamic vision.”

"The show traces a personal connection to these people who worked in another practice than painting, often on both sides of the camera," says Schnabel. "Film is like a world outside of this world. Painting is like that too. When we are attracted to the imagination of a work, we pick a world that we prefer to live in."

“It has become abundantly clear, as Julian Schnabel’s painterly vision has evolved, that cinema has served to germinate his pictorial imagination, inspiring his paintings in diverse and dynamic ways,” says AGO curator of modern and contemporary art David Moos. “Julian Schnabel: Art and Film poses cinema as a connective force, coiling through his entire oeuvre and serving to link together formally disparate work via this shared theme.”

Schnabel will visit the AGO to celebrate the exhibition’s opening and will also curate Films that Matter to Julian Schnabel, a film series screening in conjunction with the exhibition (Friday evenings beginning in October). Four other Schnabel films – Basquiat (1996), Before Night Falls (2001), Lou Reed: Berlin (2007) and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) – will screen in rotation on Saturday afternoons throughout the exhibition’s run. All screenings take place in the AGO’s Jackman Hall. Also, on August 26, Schnabel will appear at TIFF Cinematheque to introduce his Carte Blanche selection, Hector Babenco’s Pixote (1981), and Before Night Falls.

Those eager for an earlier glimpse of Schnabel’s work are in luck, as the AGO has installed a 2007 portrait of Bella and Lolita Nash, the twin daughters of Canadian-born NBA star Steve Nash and his wife Alejandra. Portrait of Bella and Lolita is hanging on the main floor of the Gallery. The work will be installed until January 2, 2011, and is accompanied by video footage of Schnabel and Nash reflecting on the process of the painting’s creation.

Julian Schnabel was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. His first solo show was at the Contemporary Arts Musem in Houston in 1975, but it was his 1979 exhibition at the Mary Boone Gallery in New York that Schnabel first asserted his presence as a figurehead of the Neo-expressionist movement in America, alongside Jean-Michael Basquiat and David Salle. He made his cinematic debut in 1996 with his account of the life of Jean-Michel Basquiat, which starred Jeffrey Wright, Gary Oldman, and Dennis Hopper. In 2002, Schnabel was the subject of a BBC documentary film directed by Vikram Jayanti, Julian Schnabel Looks at Hell.

Art Gallery of Ontario | Julian Schnabel | Matthew Teitelbaum |

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