Foundation News


May 11th, 2021


Self Portraits of Others


We are extremely excited to re-open our New York space with the exhibition Julian Schnabel: Self Portraits of Others.  While the situation with COVID and vaccine availability continues to improve in New York, we have decided to postpone the opening of the exhibition.  In doing so, we hope that this momentous exhibition will be more widely accessible to the public, as we anticipate COVID related restrictions to have lessened in the upcoming months, and will allow us to open the exhibition more broadly alongside corresponding public programming. 

Please stay tuned as the new exhibition dates will be announced in the upcoming weeks. 
The Brant Foundation’s New York space will be open to visitors, free of charge.  Advance tickets will not be required and walk-ins will be welcome during open hours. We will continue to update our website with information about planning your visit, as we are closely monitoring health and safety guidelines and protocols.Thank you, 
The Brant Foundation Team

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The Brant Foundation is pleased to present Self Portraits of Others, a solo exhibition of new works by Julian Schnabel. Created between 2018 – 2020, this series explores the evolution of Schnabel’s artistic practice while making At Eternity’s Gate, a film about the life of Vincent van Gogh. The exhibition features twenty-five plate paintings that examine the theme of portraiture throughout art history.

Self Portraits of Others is the third exhibition to be held at The Brant Foundation’s New York location.

“Whenever asked do my films influence my paintings, I’ve always replied no, my paintings have always influenced my films until I made At Eternity’s Gate about Vincent van Gogh. The film demanded that I paint van Gogh paintings as props and that I paint a likeness of Willem Dafoe as Vincent since he was inhabiting Vincent in the film and the paintings needed to look like the actor. In diving into Vincent’s life and work, I realized that Vincent made paintings of his own paintings. There is more than one painting of 15 sunflowers that happened to be in the same position and in different colors. I have always thought anything could be a model for a painting: someone else’s painting, your own painting, a smudge of dirt. In observing Van Gogh’s practice of making different versions of his own paintings, I thought I would be in concert with him if I turned the props I had made of Willem for the film into a real painting of mine. Once I embarked on that, I realized I needed to make not one painting of Willem as Vincent, but three, and then I needed in turn to make three of Vincent as Vincent. So, I made not only a painting of my painting but had to make a painting of Vincent’s painting too! Thus, it began … three of Vincent with a bandaged ear, three of Vincent from the “mon ami Paul” painting, three of Vincent from the Musée d’Orsay painting, then three of Willem as the Musée d’Orsay painting, and so on until I painted three Frida Kahlo paintings.

In the summer of 1968, I drove through Mexico. I was 16, and in the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes I came upon a life-size double portrait of a painter named Frida Kahlo. I’d never seen her work before; I’d never heard of her and I’d never seen anything like it. She was an unsung hero. Since then she became very famous, but that intimate moment of the two visible hearts of the same woman, one in a white wedding dress with spots of red blood from the open artery of the other, and the little amulet of Diego Rivera, stayed with me. I never imagined I would make a painting of that. I separated them and reconnected them as two paintings and made one other painting of a younger Frida.

Caravaggio painted his self portrait as Goliath, his cut off head being held by the young David. I painted three Caravaggio paintings: two where the actor Oscar Isaac posed because I wanted to paint Caravaggio from life. You will only see David’s arm holding Caravaggio’s head in two of these pictures.  The third is his self portrait as Goliath. Lastly, enjoying painting from life, I made three portraits of my son Cy as Velasquez and then as the dead Christ from Titian’s last painting at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice. And that was it: 25 self portraits of others.”

– Julian Schnabel

Julian Schnabel (born in Brooklyn, New York, 1951, raised in Brownsville, Texas) has always been a revolutionary voice in painting and all his other creative endeavors. His use of preexisting materials not traditionally used in art making, varied painting surfaces, and unconventional modes of construction were pivotal in the reemergence of painting in the United States and beyond since the late 1970s. He invented a new language within painting that paved the way for and influenced a new generation of artists.

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Media Contact

Justin Conner

Third Eye

Image: Julian Schnabel, Number 5 (Van Gogh Self-Portrait Musee d’Orsay, Vincent), 2019