This work is a bold and important example from Schnabel's series of plate paintings which he began in the late 1970's. As with all his various and numerous artistic endeavours, he approached this group of works with a definitive confidence and enthusiasm. These ambitious figurative works strongly influenced the shift back to figurative painting in the late 70's and early 80's and were highly commercial, making him one of the most influential artists of his time.
Schnabel's constantly evolving style has been described as unpredictable; it seems as though no sooner has he mastered one series of works he is quickly moving on to another challenge, never knowingly concerned with potentially negative artistic criticism. Although known as an artist, sculptor and film maker, Schnabel certainly stays true to painting, adapting his techniques to suit his most current project with a great vivacity.
In this instance, he uses his first wife Jacqueline Beaurang as his model taken from life. Schnabel is noted as saying "[...] the fact that I painted from life was actually what made the picture into a picture and not simply a description of something I could see." (the artist quoted in Carter Ratcliff, 'Interview with Julian Schnabel', in Exhibition Catalogue, Barcelona, Fudació Joan Miró, Julian Schnabel, 1995, p. 93) They had married three years earlier, and one can draw a similarity with Picasso's use of his wife Dora Maar as a muse in so many of Schnabel's works from this period. Schnabel also shared a similar desire to explore and experiment with his materials and style.
Inspired by the mosaics of Gaudí's Parque Güell in Barcelona, this medley of colourfully painted pieces of crockery, common pieces of everyday life, here are give such purpose and vibrancy that the portrait appears to be in constant movement. The materials used here add to the work's abstractive quality and rich texture, and at first it is difficult for the viewer to gather focus: "his often extremely fragmentary combinations exert a kind of psychological pressure. The viewer must wrestle with Schnabel's painting, constantly being pulled forward and thrown back again." (Julian Schnabel, et al., Julian Schnabel: Malerei/Paintings, 1978-2003, Germany 2005, p. 34) This awkwardness is intentional and by using this mixed medium, allows Schnabel to move away from any artistic convention. All efforts are combined here with an element of humour and light heartedness, as is reflected in the title of the work.
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