Julian Schnabel: Symbols of Actual Life

April 21, 2018August 5, 2018

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. The exhibition Julian Schnabel: Symbols of Actual Life will feature a new body of work created for the Legion’s Court of Honor. At twenty-four by twenty-four feet, the paintings 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 and as such, in the artist’s words, “epitomize much of what are the essential characteristics of the smallest and most nascent proposals of how imagery drawing and material could be called a painting.” 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).

Image: Julian Schnabel's studio in Montauk, 2017. Photo by Tom Powel Imaging, © Julian Schnabel Studio

In the News

These are paintings being part of the environment. And they will have…that history of having been exhibited here at the Legion ingrained in them wherever they end up afterwards.


This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Major support is provided by Almine Rech Gallery, Blum & Poe, Deutsche Bank, Pace Gallery, and Vito Schnabel Gallery.

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s Contemporary Arts Program is made possible by Presenting Sponsor the Lisa & Douglas Goldman Fund.

Major support is provided by Nion McEvoy and Leslie Berriman and The Paul L. Wattis Foundation. Significant support is provided by Frances F. Bowes. Additional support is provided by Kate Harbin Clammer and Adam Clammer, Jessica and Jason Moment, Katie Schwab Paige and Matt Paige, David and Roxanne Soward, Joachim and Nancy Hellman Bechtle, Jeffrey N. Dauber and Marc A. Levin, Shaari Ergas, Laurent Fischer and Jason Joseph Anthony, Kaitlyn and Mike Krieger, Lore Harp McGovern, Rotasa Fund, Mr. and Mrs. Charles R. Schwab, Gwynned Vitello, Vance Wall Foundation, Anonymous, and the Contemporary Support Council of the Fine Arts Museums.