During 1982 Julian Schnabel was the most talked about artist in New York. In that one year, he had eight solo exhibitions and was included in twenty-two group shows, and there were no less than four pages of bibliographic references for his work. It became impossible in certain circles to attend a dinner party where Schnabel was not the center of conversation. Everybody, it seemed, was asking everybody, in an effort to get at the heart of the matter, “What do you think about Julian Schnabel?” Meanwhile, like some storybook prince with sunset-colored hair, the artist himself stood poised on the edge of his own spectacular success. Paintings that in 1977 had sold for $3,000 were now alleged to be worth upwards of $60,000. To the Brooklyn-born Schnabel, who had arrived in New York in 1973 fresh from the University of Houston, it must have seemed as if his ambition to become “the greatest artist in...


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