FILM: Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait


“Larger than life” is the description most associated with artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, so director Pappi Corsicato had a wealth of material to pull from in creating his new documentary on the artist, Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait.  The film features interviews with a great number of friends and family members ranging from his children and colleagues like Jeff Koons to celebrity friends like Bono and Al Pacino.

The documentary has some terrific historical footage showing some of Schnabel’s process in film-making and painting and gives a historical overview of his work, but as an artist myself I was hopeful to get more insight on his art itself.  I always felt Schnabel’s film work was stronger and didn’t find a way to connect to many of his paintings, which vary in subject, style, and medium. But while the film tells about how friends know the work, they don’t show the audience what the art is really about.  The film gives a glimpse into his life and his family but mostly avoids some of the well known controversies surrounding the artist. The film tends to focus more on his personality through a series of interviews with friends and relatives and when it does address the art it doesn’t get in depth.  That being said, Schnabel has enough personality and confidence to make the film worth watching and that paired with the footage of his process does make for an enjoyable and often inspirational film.

Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait is now in theaters.

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