Schnabel Is Back With a Comprehensive Survey at the Brant Foundation

Almost invisible to the American art scene for the past decade, the powerhouse neo-expressionist artist has returned for his first American survey since 1987.

Julian Schnabel is back with a vengeance.

Exhibiting exclusively in Europe for the past eleven years, the neo-expressionist artist has re-emerged on the American art scene with the same ferocity and vigor that put him at the top of a powerhouse list of artists in the 1980s.

In the late seventies, Schnabel was propelled to notoriety by his broken plate paintings—a series of large-scale works that involved broken ceramic dishes set onto a painted canvas. When they debuted at the Mary Boone Gallery in 1979, the paintings sold out even before the exhibition’s opening night. Prices continued to rise. Works continued to sell. Schnabel quickly became an art world elite.

Yet, in 1982, Schnabel’s work was nowhere to be seen in the coveted halls of Documenta, a survey of the world’s elite contemporary artists held in Germany every five years—a decision then-organizer, Rudi Fuchs, later regretted. Schnabel developed rocky relationships with dealers Mary Boone and Leo Castelli as well as artists Robert Longo, Eric Fischl, and David Salle. The public began to focus more on his over the top and narcissistic persona rather than his work. And, claiming to be the best thing since Picasso didn’t help his case.

As any tried-and-true creative force, Schnabel kept producing. He painted, built sculptures, furniture, and architecture, released a rock album, and directed two award-winning films. His works have been continuously shown throughout Europe and four paintings made a brief appearance at the Oko Gallery in the East Village earlier this year. Even then, only one painting was put on display, rotating every few weeks.

Now, after a decade of near-invisibility in New York, the Brant Foundation has launched a much anticipated comprehensive survey of the artist’s works—the first in the United States since his exhibition at the Whitney Museum in 1987. It features roughly fifty pieces from the late 1970s to today, including a large number of his signature plate paintings. Sculptures, furniture, and rarely exhibited drawings and studies are on view.

The Brant Foundation Art Study Center is located at 941 North Street in Greenwich, Connecticut, and is open Monday through Friday by appointment only. The exhibition will remain on view through March 2014.