The Patron Saint of Paint

Remember good old-fashioned oil on canvas? Judging by the splash that Julian Schnabel, the high diver of the contemporary American art scene, has been making in Frankfurt, it's still alive and kicking in the age of multimedia installations. At least that's true of Schnabel's brand of oil painting, in which buckets of pigment are applied to vast tarpaulins, sails and boxing-ring mats. His retrospective, "Julian Schnabel Paintings 1978-2003," at the Schirn Museum until April 25, has attracted more ink than anything since Christo wrapped up the Reichstag.

Paint could hardly find a more forceful salesman. Schnabel's wide-ranging postmodern...

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