Julian Schnabel - 20th c. & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Thursday, July 2, 2020 | Phillips
  • In Short

    Marked by the fearless bombast that has defined much of the artist’s career, Julian Schnabel’s Insomnolent Brown Trimmed in Mink, 1980, exemplifies the artist’s explorations of the chimeric similitude of abstraction and figuration through it energetic warping of competing forms. The present artwork is emblematic of the transformative period of experimentation Schnabel experienced at the close of the 1970s as he began incorporating wax into his paintings, a material that has had a lasting effect on his practice as it enabled the artist to imbue his works with a more imposing materiality and a boisterous physical presence.

  • The '80s: A Return to Painting

    Spearheading an irreverent return to painting, Schnabel precipitously came to fame in the late 1970s as much for his daring and immediate artworks as for his swaggering bravado; a breakthrough 1979 solo exhibition at Mary Boone Gallery, his first ever, marked his swift arrival as a fully formed artistic force and cemented his status as a leading figure on the illustrious New York art scene of the 1980s.


    “I don’t think the battle between figuration and abstraction is even an issue. Anything can be a model for a painting – a poplar tree, another painting, a smudge of dirt.”

    – Julian Schnabel

    Since then, Schnabel has produced artworks at a rapid pace in a vertiginous diversity of styles; despite his formal range, however, Schnabel’s work is united by its embrace of chance, imposing physicality, and convention-breaking use of material. While painting has been the constant drive throughout Schnabel’s career, he has also pursued filmmaking, design, and architecture with great success, receiving such awards as Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival and the Golden Globes for his 2007 film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. 

    • Provenance

      Gagosian Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1989

    • Exhibited

      Zurich, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Julian Schnabel: New Work, June 14 - July 5, 1980

    • Literature

      Rudi Fuchs, Hilton Kramer and Peter Schjeldahl, eds., Art of Our Time - The Saatchi Collection 3: Baselitz Guston Kiefer Morley Polke Schnabel, London, 1984, no. 86, p. 7 (illustrated, n.p.)

Property from a Distinguished Midwestern Collection


Insomnolent Brown Trimmed in Mink

signed and dated "Julian Schnabel 1980" on the reverse; dedicated "TO BRUNO" on the stretcher
oil and wax on canvas
96 x 84 in. (243.8 x 213.4 cm)
Painted in 1980.

Full Cataloguing

$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for $250,000

Contact Specialist

John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th c. & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 2 July 2020