Boisterous, bombastic and filled with braggadocio. On the publication of a super-sized new monograph, the artist is as combustible as ever.
The book has a cover of roses and comes in a weighty pink box that acts as a protective case, surrounding it like a frame when opened. The pink gives the artworks an aura, producing, in Schnabel’s words, a “halo around every painting, which goes perfectly with every page”. Schnabel has a taste for the godly, for anything transcending mere mortality. The titles of his paintings refer to saints and angels as often as they do celebrity subjects and famous artists. A week or so before our interview, he was at his studio in Montauk, painting outside in the cold, without a coat. “I don’t feel cold. You just forget about your body, you forget about everything somehow,” he says. In 1977 Schnabel called a work I Don’t Want to be King, I Want to be Pope.