Confession: Julian Schnabel is not an artist whose work I particularly admire. To me, his stuff almost always seems uninspired, phoned in, and, well, just plain ugly. I do not think that I am alone in that opinion. Schnabel’s latest exhibit, New Plate Paintings, which is his first solo show at Pace Gallery since leaving Gagosian, is a collection of nearly-identical variations on a theme: paintings depicting pink roses on a bed of greenery, which is notable for being painted on a relief of broken dishes mounted on the canvas.
Inspired by the roses growing in the cemetery near Vincent Van Gogh’s grave in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, these works are have the same title, Rose Painting Near Van Gogh’s Grave, with an identifying roman number added. Well, it beats the laziness of calling each piece “Untitled.”
There is no denying that the works look pretty, but painting a floral still life on broken dishes, so that the jagged, pointy bits can stand in for leaves, is the kind of idea that would be considered wildly clever if you were participating in a high school art show, or local crafts fair. Is that really all he’s got in the wheelhouse?
Maybe it’s the physical scale of each piece that qualifies them as impressive, but justifying a $900,000 price tag on piece of comparatively uninteresting art just because your name is Julian Schnabel seems a bit contemptuous. Plus, Schnabel has been doing the plate paintings for almost three decades already. Yawn city.
Andy Warhol once said that, “Art is what you can get away with.” This is still a valid sentiment.
New Plate Paintings By Julian Schnabel will be on Exhibit Through March 25th, 2017 at Pace Gallery, Located at 510 West 25th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District