Symbols of Actual Life
Curated by Max Hollein, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Legion of Honor, San Francisco
April 19-August 5, 2019
"The paintings in the exhibition epitomize much of what are the essential characteristics of the smallest and most nascent proposals of how imagery, drawing and material function in my painting. This is as far as I can take painting -- this week." -- Julian Schnabel
Julian Schnabel's first exhibition at a US West Coast institution in over 30 years, Symbols of Actual Life, 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 the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (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.
Since 1977, Julian Schnabel (b. 1951) has captured people's imagination with paintings that speak to his incessant appetite for sculptural physicality, material diversity, and pictorial symbolism that have resulted in ever more audaciously scaled paintings that oscillate between abstraction and figuration. At twenty-four by twenty-four feet, the paintings created for the Legion's Court of Honor are both monumental in scale and ephemeral in nature. Exposed to the elements over the four-month run of the exhibition, they aren't meant to last. In addition, Schnabel will show eight paintings from three distinct bodies of work including a new series of abstractions on Mexican sack linen, as well as examples from the Goat Paintings (begun in 2012) and the Jane Birkin series (1990).