Ignoring the common candle clichés, the more contentious aspect of “Standing Julian” is premature, celebrated, public death. Schnabel’s art-star career is characterized by egoistic confabulation, often manifest as equally grandiose work. Poignantly, the aggrandized auteur is physicalized as temporary, monumental statuary for self and cultural consumption.
The portrait reflects Schnabel’s objet petit a fixation, theatrically enlivened by art’s necessary auto-cannibalism. As such the living demise of a momentary cultural genius is a sardonic tribute to culture’s accelerating consumptive desire: a forced, spectacular compaction of temporality as a pre-funereal rehearsal, a tragi-comic celebration of sublimated genius.
~ Ryder Richards
images courtesy of the author and the Whitney Museum of American Art