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The Collection of Jerry Moss

Untitled (Girl with No Eyes)

Untitled (Girl with No Eyes)
oil and wax on canvas, in artist's frame
overall: 108 x 102 in. (274.3 x 259.1 cm.)
Executed in 2001.
Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills
Acquired from the above by the late owner, 2002
Beverly Hills, Gagosian Gallery, Big Girl Paintings, March-May 2002.

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Allison Immergut
Allison Immergut Associate Vice President, Specialist, Co-Head of Day Sale

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Lot Essay

I see paintings everywhere. I look at stuff and it looks like painting to me. Making a painting is like playing the saxophone. You hit the note and it comes out. I think my paintings are about time—a lot to do with time and different levels of things that are having a parallel life. Julian Schnabel

Exhibited with great anticipation at Gagosian Gallery in 2002, the present lot comes from Julian Schnabel’s iconic Big Girl Paintings series. The series is aptly named. Inspired by the artist’s spontaneous acquisition of small paintings from a thrift store in 1987, the Big Girl Paintings consist of truly massive canvases in ornate frames, all featuring thickly painted portraits of girls in collared sweaters, only differing in their hairstyles. The present lot features a woman donning a vibrant red sweater embellished with a white 'W' shape that originates from the collar and gracefully extends onto her shoulder. The warmth of her color palette harmoniously blends with the canary-yellow backdrop while sharply contrasting the swath of violet that obscures the girl’s sight. Schnabel artistically blindfolded the subject and immediately entrances the viewer.
Interestingly, Schnabel offers an explanation for this intentional deletion: it serves as a means to compel the viewer to engage with the paintings themselves, encouraging a deep and contemplative examination beyond the superficial gaze on the subject. By concealing the subject, the viewer’s attention is directed to the impressive density in the textural quality of the painting – Schnabel dilutes oil and wax together to create a thick medium.

Yet, it is not just the enigmatic subject matter that makes these paintings stand out. The canvases themselves are monumental, stretching to heights ranging from seven to an imposing ten feet. These colossal dimensions envelop the spectator, dominating their peripheral vision and immersing them in a world of visual contemplation. Schnabel wanted the viewer to look at the work not as the portrait of a girl, but as a painting itself.

The surface of the canvas is worked with meticulous care and attention, as the medium of mixed paint and wax creates a lusciously tactile and visceral surface. This technique forms an unexpected harmony with the lack of sentimentality in the painting, as the sensuous textures of the artwork teases the viewer's senses while challenging their preconceptions.

Born in Brooklyn in 1951, Julian Schnabel is known for his highly-expressive large format paintings which made him a star of Neo-Expressive painting by experimenting with unconventional surfaces for his work. Fluctuating between abstraction and figuration, Julian Schnabel's artistic genius has cemented his presence in major art collections across the globe, from The Broad to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Centre Georges Pompidou. Schnabel's Untitled (Girl with No Eyes) exemplifies his unique artistic vision, offering viewers an intriguing and textural experience through the juxtaposition of an enigmatic subject with bold textures and monumental scale.

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