Julian Schnabel loves corporations, hates Cuba

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Sun Mar 25 13:08:31 MST 2001

NY Times Magazine, March 25, 2001

Julian Schnabel's Lust for Life


On a snowy night in Albany last month, 600 people packed a hall at the
State University of New York for a screening of the movie "Before Night
Falls" and cheered wildly when the filmmaker Julian Schnabel came onstage
after the show. Schnabel was wearing a boxy gray jacket; he did not fit the
image he had gained over the years as a painter in a sarong. He seemed
ungainly, and the heavy black glasses he put on only emphasized the
bluntness of his features. His beard stuck out like a shingle. His bright
round cheeks made his eyes almost disappear.

But as comfortable as a man walking onto his veranda to greet old friends,
Schnabel spoke in a stream-of-consciousness way about his film, others'
films, art, whatever crossed his mind. "You know, I watch a movie like
'Cast Away' and I want to, like, commit hara-kiri," he said. "The dumb
lobby, the money lobby -- there are companies that would rather make one
dumb movie for $200 million rather than 20 $10 million movies that might
have some meaning."

Thunderous applause. . .

I vexed Schnabel even more when I brought up the name of Fidel Castro. I
was taking a trip to Cuba, and I wanted to interview Castro about
Schnabel's movie. What should I ask the president?

Schnabel sighed and got to his feet. He cast me a sidelong glance. He had
intuited something unseemly: I was using his movie to try and meet Castro
(it didn't happen, but I tried). Schnabel suddenly mistrusted me. He spoke
with blunt power.

"I guess that's what you do as a journalist," he said. "I was 10 feet away
from him, and I wouldn't shake hands with him. I was invited to the film
festival, and there was a long line of people who were invited to this big
smorgasbord, and he was there where that chair is, and Tom Hayden was
shaking hands with him and all these other different people and directors,
but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I think there's too much blood
on his hands. I'm trying to be true to Reinaldo's voice here; I'm not that
civilized where I want to go and shake hands and hang around with Fidel
Castro. Jack Nicholson has done that, or Gérard Depardieu is friends with
him or whatever. I can't be that casual." Schnabel's description of himself
as "not that civilized" was honest and resonant. He might have said
"unsophisticated," but only a sophisticated person would use that word. At
dinner in Albany Schnabel spoke of people as being either "bums" or
"mensches." Bums were betrayers. Mensches were loyal to art and family. It
was simple, but it worked.

Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/03/25/magazine/25SCHNABEL.html


The New York Times, November 2, 1986, Sunday, Late City Final Edition


BY CATHLEEN MCGUIGAN; Cathleen McGuigan writes on cultural subjects for

KAREN BROOKS HOPKINS looked satisfied - so many people had wanted to attend
this year. The chief fund-raiser for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, an
institution usually known as BAM, Karen Hopkins was standing in what was
once the academy's ballroom, spotting lots of important people in the
crowd. They were so crammed around extra tables that the waiters could
hardly squeeze by with their trays of duckling and champagne. Over there
was Richard Gere, laughing it up with the painter JULIAN SCHNABEL. Dianne
Brill, the Valkyrie of the downtown disco set, was table hopping. Candice
Bergen and her husband, Louis Malle, were chatting with Bianca Jagger.

But it was not the sight of all the stars that swelled Karen Hopkins's
heart that night. It was the fact that so many people from the staid
corporate world were there. The occasion was last month's opening night
gala of BAM's Next Wave Festival, the biggest assemblage of avant-garde
performing art in the country, and dozens of businessmen had put on black
tie and come to see the show. They had sat through the American premier of
Merce Cunningham's ''Roaratorio,'' a dance based on James Joyce's
''Finnegans Wake,'' with a cacophonous score by John Cage, which included
tape recorded barking dogs and crying babies. And then the business types
had stayed for dinner. They seemed happy.

Karen Hopkins, whose official title at BAM is vice president for planning
and development, could see executives from American Telephone and
Telegraph, Schlumberger, Remy Martin Amerique, Bankers Trust and Barneys
New York. She could see real estate moguls. Three genera-tions of chairmen
of the board of Phillip Morris Companies Inc. were there - Joseph F.
Cullman, George Weissman and the current one, Hamish Maxwell. All these
business people had given big money to the avant-garde event, but Philip
Morris had outdone everyone else. The cigarette manufacturer is, in fact,
the main corporate sponsor of the Next Wave Festival and has pledged it
$500,000 over the next two years. . .

''BAM's interest had dovetailed with this renewed energy in the art world,
the art stars and dealers, the passing of the torch to a younger
generation,'' says Anne Livet. A lot of the successful younger artists soon
were regularly spotted at the Next Wave, such as JULIAN SCHNABEL, David
Salle, Keith Haring, Robert Longo. ''We cul-(Continued on Page 64) tivated
an elite very knowingly and aggressively,'' says Reichard. He took Bianca
Jagger, for example, to a Next Wave performance of Carolyn Carlson and the
Dance Theater of La Fenice in 1983, and she became a patron. Through Steve
Reichard and Anne Livet, the art collectors Robert Forbes Jr. and Asher
Edelman have joined the BAM board, as well as Laurie Mallet, president and
chief executive officer of WilliWear. . .

To keep its loyal patrons inside the tent, the consultants devised the
Producers' Council, modeled after a similar council of patrons at the
Museum of Modern Art. Donors must give at least $1,000 a year to be invited
to join the council, and numerous events are engineered throughout the year
to keep them involved: meet-the-artist parties, such as the little dinner
that the photography dealer Daniel Wolf threw with Diane Keaton for the
German choreographer Pina Bausch, or the party at Topping Riding Club in
the Hamptons, to which everyone was asked to wear white (though JULIAN
SCHNABEL showed up in a black jumpsuit and brought along the avant-garde
rock-and-roll musician Captain Beefheart). These days, the Next Wave is as
likely to turn up on society pages as in the critics' columns, and the
roster of patrons who donate more than $1,000 has grown from two dozen in
1983 to more than 100.

Louis Proyect
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