Cuartel de Carmen, Spain, 1988

Julian Schnabel:  Reconocimientos Pinturas del Carmen, Cuartel de Carmen, Seville, Spain, 1988

Julian Schnabel creates the Recognitions series of paintings, exhibiting them in the ruins of the El Carmen monastery in Seville and subsequently in the Kunsthalle Basel. The title of the work refers to William Gaddis’ 1983 novel of the same name. In the large-format paintings on dark tarpaulin and often irregular contours, the linear white writing becomes the single pictorial element, defining the space. The use of language and writing, an important element in Julian’s pieces of art since the early 1970’s, reaches its high point.

For certain paintings, including The Edge of Victory, Schnabel uses the former floor covering of a boxing ring, which bears the traces of numerous boxing matches. Like tarpaulin, he again uses a material “with a history,” the traces of its use lending the work an unmistakably unique character.

“Letters are real. For me they’re pictorial elements that also have a sociological connotation and a historical, temporal connotation.” (Prato 1990, p. 21)