Rose Painting (Near Van Gogh’s Grave) III, 2015, by Julian Schnabel
Missed Julian Schnabel’s latest show at Pace Gallery? Not to worry — you can have your plates and for eternity, too, with the accompanying book that catalogues the entire exhibit. New Plate Paintings is a homecoming, two ways: the artist returns to his old gallery for the first time in 15 years while the mammoth works, which feature broken shards of crockery on which he’s painted pretty blooms, brings back his signature style. Schnabel’s first show of plate paintings, back in 1979, were revolutionary — smashed tableware, lacquered with paint and a canvas of incredible texture and color that, for many, ushered in the Eighties art high. He would revive the technique again and again through the years, from portraits to more abstracted works. “The plates seemed to have a sound, the sound of every violent human tragedy, an anthropomorphic sense of things being smeared and thrown,” he wrote back in 1978. “I wanted to make something that was exploding as much as I wanted to make something that was cohesive.”

At first glance, there’s something decidedly more serene about these new floral works, which were inspired by the roses growing in the cemetery near Van Gogh’s grave in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, the jagged pieces rising from the canvas not unlike the thick swipes and globs of tactile paint you see from other artists. But when you come a little closer and realize these are fractured remains, you wonder: Are they plates shattered in violence or tears? Or perhaps in — opa! — celebration? If you’re the kind of art lover who likes to mull over these things, then check out more of Schnabel’s work here and track the evolution of this series.

More to explore in Culture