Lot 72
  • 72

Julian Schnabel

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 USD
1,205,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Julian Schnabel
  • 800 Blows
  • signed on the reverse of the right panel
  • broken ceramic, bondo and oil on wood, in three parts


Mary Boone Gallery, New York
Barbara Schwartz, New York (acquired from the above in 1983)
Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich (acquired from the above in 2004)
Acquired by the present owner from the above


Montreal, Musée d'art contemporain, Via New York, May - June 1984, p. 32, illustrated in color
New York, The Pace Gallery, Julian Schnabel, November - December 1984, cat. no. 6, illustrated in color
Miami, Museum of Contemporary Art, Mythic Proportions: Painting in the 1980s, February - May 2001, n.p., illustrated
Zurich, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Durenand, May 2007 - January 2008

Catalogue Note

Julian Schnabel’s 800 Blows from 1983 is a triumph of the series that launched his career. The work confronts the viewer with a sheer physicality that bridges the divide between painting and sculpture. Immensely powerful and monumental in scale, 800 Blows includes an impressive array of broken ceramic across three wooden constructions. First exhibited at the Mary Boone Gallery in 1979, Schnabel’s Plate Paintings granted him new heights of international recognition. These were the works that compelled Leo Castelli to represent Schnabel, who became the first new artist that the legendary gallerist would show for twelve years. The Plate Paintings also comprised Schnabel’s entry to the Venice Biennale in 1980. In the present work, the elements of Schnabel’s artistic vocabulary are still as striking and relevant as when they were first seen by the contemporary art world over thirty years ago.

Fixed like puzzle pieces on a Cubist composition, Schnabel’s broken plates fill the pictorial space surrounding a classical head imbued with a hopeful and contemplative expression. Inspired by a walk through Antoni Gaudi’s architecturally designed Park Güell in Barcelona and engulfed in mosaic and a burnt color palette, 800 Blows exemplifies Schnabel’s unique understanding of the complementary relationship between art, expression and contemporary culture.

Here plates are taken from the dinner table and placed on a vertical plane in the tradition of the ready-mades of Picasso, Duchamp and Rauschenberg, bringing a new dimension to the domestic purpose of this unusual media. Schnabel notes in his autobiography that “The concreteness of a painting can’t help but allude to a world of associations that may have a completely other face than that of the image you are looking at." (Julian Schnabel, CVJ: Nicknames of Maitre D's & Other Excerpts From Life, New York, 1987, p. 41) The plates in this series are transcendent, reversing a familiar ceramic into an original narrative.

The work’s immense scale summons a dynamic sense of play and movement. Schnabel layers the broken pieces within the confines of the wood construction, allowing for organic cracks to emerge like fossils in the series. Schnabel’s visually stimulating color palette utilizes a well-balanced mix of contrasts and muted tones. Utterly unique within the corpus of Schnabel’s Plate Paintings800 Blows brilliantly illustrates his impressive grasp of artistic expression and material. Engulfing in its size, the work offers a singular example of Schnabel’s artistic language and perfectly represents the start of an illustrious career.