‘I Don’t Want to Be Part of a Conglomerate’: Julian Schnabel Discusses Leaving Gagosian for Pace at Bruce High Quality Benefit

The scene at the Bruce High Quality Foundation University benefit, held at Palazzo Chupi.COURTESY MAX LAKNER/BFA

The scene at the Bruce High Quality Foundation University benefit, held at Palazzo Chupi.


Earlier this year, the Bruce High Quality Foundation University, the free art school run by members of the semi-anonymous collective, moved its operations completely out of Manhattan, settling in Industry City after three years at a second-floor space on Avenue A. But despite the new Brooklyn environs, the Bruce crew held its annual benefit at its usual West Village spot: the home of Julian Schnabel, otherwise known as Palazzo Chupi.

Schnabel’s son Vito is a longtime compatriot of the BHQF, and seeing as he also lives in the infamous pink mansion (a few floors below his dad) the downstairs garage makes for a pretty perfect spot to throw a party to raise money for the gratis university. After a live auction of work by Rita Ackerman, Henry Taylor, and the Bruces themselves, Schnabel was seen futzing around the space in his usual cocktail attire, which is his pajamas.

Perhaps it was the right time to chat with him about his recent decision to join Pace Gallery, ending his relationship with Gagosian Gallery (however tenuous that relationship was—a Gagosian representative told the New York Times that they never “formally represented” Schnabel). It recalled a similar situation in 1984, when the artist rather abruptly decided to leave Mary Boone for Pace, causing some consternation among the people with chips in the game. Leo Castelli called up Schnabel, yelled, “I have nothing but contempt for you,” and slammed down the phone.

So, why make a move back to Pace this time?

“Why would I want to do that? Because I know them,” Schnabel said. “And life’s too short. Too short to waste. I just think that, if it’s not fun, don’t do it. I wasn’t having much fun.”

He was stopped for a second by his daughter Stella, who was beckoning him elsewhere in his garage. Before he left, he said he wanted to elaborate on how much he likes Pace founder Arne Glimcher.

“I’ve known Arne for a long time, I wanted to have a dealer that was a friend of mine. I don’t want to be part of a conglomerate. It doesn’t have to be like that! I wasn’t feeling it, you know?”

Fair enough.

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