“Julian Schnabel,” Jean-Christophe Ammann has written, “seems to embody a creative energy that expands in all directions.” Essentially in painting, we would say. When it comes to painting, Schnabel has been particularly inclined towards opulence and grandiosity, in the dimensions of his works—some of them virtually murals—as well as the finish and abundance of what happens in and is placed on the canvas. Or, on the contrary, in the work’s austerity and concentration, which does not, however, diminish the intensity of his ideas. The year 1983, when he painted Don Quijote Meets Don Corleone, is significant in the evolution of his work. It was the year he did his first works on sailcloth, acquired, oddly enough, from the same manufacturer in Amagansett—by now an old man—who on one occasion had sold the same material to Jackson Pollock. 1983 was also the year he began to work with sculpture. This piece shows the influence of Sigmar Polke, but also reveals the features that distinguish the American artist from his German counterpart. Both artists coincide in the superimposition of images on different planes and technical treatments of diverse origins and disciplines. The differentiating elements are cultural multiplicity and a sense of the past that makes Schnabel’s works—as Diego Cortez has pointed out—offer up “handmade sediments of history”. Figuring out the reason for the title he has given the work, Don Quijote Meets Don Corleone, is not easy, but we might not be mistaken in supposing that it corresponds both to the artist’s sense of irony and his proven interest in cultural crossover. The painted bowl visible in the centre of the painting is a reference to the trip the Schnabels took to Morocco that same year.
Works that may interest you