Grey Roughnecks, oil, wax, resin on polyester, 2003.
Artist Julian Schnabel is coming back to Texas. Before he became an international star for his huge ‘plate paintings’ and directing such movies as Before Night Falls and Berlin, Schnabel was a New York teenager who moved to Texas. The Dallas Art Fair opens this weekend, and Friday, the Dallas Contemporary opens a new show of Schnabel’s paintings. KERA’s Jerome Weeks contacted the artist in his New York City home.
- KERA radio story:
- Expanded online story:
Weeks: So Julian, a major survey of your paintings just closed in Greenwich, Connecticut, and later this month, you have a new gallery show opening in New York. So why’d you squeeze Dallas in between all that?
Schnabel: Texas has been a big part of my life. I mean, I moved to Texas when I was a teenager. Lived on the Mexican border. And so I spent a lot of time, besides living in Brownsville, traveling down to Mexico and spent a lot of time in Mexico, and I think Texas’ proximity to Mexico had a big effect on me.
Weeks: You eventually spent some time in Dallas, after graduating from the University of Houston. Even worked for awhile at the Grape Restaurant.
Schnabel: Actually I was accepted to graduate school at SMU, had a scholarship there and I quit. And working at the Grape Restaurant? Part of my existential training.
Weeks: Why’d you quit SMU?
Schnabel: Wasn’t learning anything. Was a waste of time. I mean, I thought it could be interesting, to live in Dallas. I knew some artists there. And I liked it there. But I wasn’t there really very long. I was sort of in Houston part of the time. I actually had a show at the Contemporary Arts Museum [in Houston - his first solo museum show] in March of ’76 when I was supposed to be in graduate school in SMU.
Weeks: In fact, in your 1987 memoir, CVJ, in your acknowledgements, you thank your parents for moving to Texas.