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The retrospective at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt includes more than 50 monumental works and focuses on Julian Schnabel’s oeuvre as a painter.

“Painting is about not losing the point”, says Julian “Mr. Big” Schnabel. Next stops are Reina Sofia in Madrid and Naples and probably big art biz. He is trying to get his career to take off again with a very comprehensive exhibition. Aim of the operation: Art market, back to the future, back to the Eighties, back to one million for one painting. Maybe this is the reason the opening in Frankfurt was so fashionable: famous German actors, artists dressed up as artists - and Julian`s old buddy Lou Reed with a hood.

And the paintings? Some of them are so perfect that you can forgive Julian Schnabel`s exercises with painted porcelain shards. He plays superbly with monumental highly evocative paintings in the difficult architecture of the Schirn. The series “La voz de Antonio Molina” or “Los Patos del Buen Retiro”, 1991 and the recent work reflect aspects of European traditions but remains strictly American in the content. Julian Schnabel has no need for curatorial wall text: all you need to do is admire it.

—Walter Kratner, Weitz, Austria

- Cheryl Meeker [Friday, February 20th, 2004]

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