OPEN TODAY 10 - 17
Under the patronage of
Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II

Presse _Julian _Scnabel1

Julian Schnabel: Aktion Paintings 1985-2017

13 October - 3 March 2019

ARoS Aarhus Art Museum’s major special exhibition for Autumn 2018 offers a retrospective on one of American art’s great heavyweights — the American painter and film director Julian Schnabel (b. 1951).

The exhibition will be the largest presentation ever of this artist in the Nordic region and will be a sweeping tour de force of the artist’s work over several decades. The exhibition has been arranged in close collaboration with the artist himself and will show over 40 large scale works from a career spanning more than 30 years.


Julian Schnabel stands out as the most noteworthy figure in the revival of figurative and narrative painting at the start of the 1980s. A blustering neo-expressionism that emerged after painting had been disavowed for several years in favour of the 1970s more conceptual and, not least, inward-looking art forms.

Julian Schnabel began his artistic career in the US where he, together with a distinguished group of artists that included Jean-Michel Basquiat, strove to return narrative painting and the subjective to art. This had been abandoned for a long period in favour of a decidedly minimalistic and conceptual style. Known in his younger years as New York’s enfant terrible, Julian Schnabel was friends with Andy Warhol and Basquiat and their circle.

Schnabel became world renowned in the early 1980s for his enormous plate paintings that were painted on large shards of broken porcelain. Schnabel had been inspired to create these after visiting Gaudi’s Parc Güell in Barcelona, famed for its mosaic benches. Schnabel won acclaim and success for his use of unconventional and discordant materials such as smashed plates and visitors to the exhibition will encounter a wealth of varying types of painting, encompassing painted plates and old, distressed tarpaulins, canvas and photographic prints. 

The exhibition has come about in close collaboration with Julian Schnabel himself and ARoS and the artist have envisaged an innovative architecture that will lead visitors on a journey around Julian Schnabel’s artistic universe.


In a Danish context, the Danish counterparts to Schnabel, De Unge Vilde, have had a substantial impact on shaping Danish art from the 1980s up to today. Danish artists of the 1980s are among the most celebrated Danish artists and their reintroduction of narrative as foundational for the painting has echoes in Danish art even today. Similarly, ARoS has for many years evinced a particular interest in the wild paintings of the 80s that comprise a large part of the museum’s permanent collection.

The neo-expressionism that Schnabel is an exponent of has founded schools of artists ever since and one can see the legacy of Julian Schnabel among young contemporary artists, both Danish and international, making Julian Schnabel more relevant than ever before.

Visitors to ARoS can look forward to an exhibition of world-class international painting and an exhibition with a truly singular American artist.

The exhibition is curated and designed by Julian Schnabel and Louise Kugelberg on the initiative of Erlend G. Høyersten and Jens-Peter Brask.


Julian Schnabel, Big Girl Painting, 2013, oil on canvas, 414 x 386,1 cm, private collection, photo Tom Powel Imaging


Julian Schnabel, Last Attempt at Attracting Butterflies, 1994, oil on canvas, 411.5 x 375.9 cm, private collection. Photo by Ken Cohen Photography

The exhibition is supported by



©ARoS 2017