Gallery Watch: Julian Schnabel Polaroids

Posted by David Ozanich — 12 Oct 2010


Famed artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel (“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” among others) has taken up Polaroid photography, reports the Guardian. But its not just any old Polaroid camera:

It is one of only six in existence: a 20x24in 1970s handmade machine. It is huge, cumbersome, intended for studio photography and greedy for flash lighting. But for Schnabel, it has been a revelation. He started taking photos as a personal record but became amazed by what his camera could do. "This camera works like photosynthesis. It is as if you were Xeroxing your own face. The pictures have such physicality: their surface is like fine leather, stained from chemicals. Each one has a body and is more than an image."


The London gallery Colnaghi is displaying the photographs until November 12th. Their website describes the works on view:

Curated by Petra Giloy-Hirtz, the exhibition will present a selection of photographs, mostly previously unpublished, which offer an insight into the enigmatic character of the artist and a glimpse into his working environment. Works on view include images of Schnabel’s family and friends, such as Lou Reed, Placido Domingo and Mickey Rourke, alongside Polaroids of the artist's private spaces within the Palazzo Chupi on New York's Lower West Side and the interiors and surroundings of his studios in Brooklyn, Montauk and Manhattan. Schnabel took these extraordinary large-format Polaroids, both in brilliant colour and black-and-white, using a dolly-mounted 20 x 24 in. 1970s camera, and in some cases the artist has painted on the surfaces of the photographs. Together these Polaroids create a unique tableau, both intensely personal and poetic.

Below is a photo by Jennifer Trausch of Schnabel’s crazy hand-made Polaroid camera.


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