The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) are proud to present an important and unusual exhibition by one of the most significant painters of our time. Julian Schnabel’s first exhibition at a US West Coast institution in over 30 years will feature new, large-scale paintings, occupying the Legion of Honor’s open-air courtyard. Inside, the museum's neo-classical galleries will play host to three series of paintings from the past three decades, rarely seen before by the public. The exhibition is part of FAMSF’s newly formed contemporary art program, which creates dialogues between living artists and the buildings, locations and collections of the Legion of Honor and de Young.
Max Hollein, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and curator of the exhibition states: "Since 1978, Julian Schnabel has transformed what painting is, what a painting can be, and how paintings can be done. The sculptural physicality, complex materiality, and unique pictorial language of Schnabel’s works create an emotionally charged and poetic environment for the viewer, which is simply revelatory. Extraordinary in many aspects, his new paintings at the Legion of Honor will be an arrangement in a challenging arena, fostering many of the elements that make his work so outstanding."
Julian Schnabel: Symbols of Actual Life will begin before visitors even enter the Legion of Honor. Placed around the vast outdoor colonnade of the museum’s courtyard will be six 24-by-24-foot paintings, architectural and monumental in scale, yet part of an ephemeral natural cycle. Painted on found, tarp-like material in the artist’s outdoor studio, they will be exposed to the elements over the four-month run of the exhibition, thus absorbing their own exhibition history.
Inside the museum the exhibition will present eight paintings from three distinct bodies of work; showing the artist’s evolved, yet coherent practice. His unorthodox, highly experimental approach to the use of materials, gestures and form is explored in audaciously scaled and shaped paintings that oscillate between abstraction and figuration. Using a vast array of sources, Schnabel continuously incorporates a diversity of found materials into his works: broken plates, textiles such as Kabuki theater backdrops, sails, tarpaulins, and velvet. Images, names, and fragments of language; and thickly applied paint, resin, and digital reproductions are distributed across surfaces and support.