Julian Schnabel Busies the Beach


Since 2005, Maybach, the century-older German luxury car manufacturer, has also pursued excellence in the world of contemporary art. They notably supported Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s The Gates in New York’s Central Park; in 2009, the company collaborated with photographer David LaChapelle, who paid euphoric homage to the brand’s 1932 model Zeppelin.


During Art Basel Miami Beach, the manufacturer and New York artist Julian Schnabel rode a common path, kicking off a two-year partnership by unveiling his Queequeq – The Maybach Sculpture. On December 2, Maybach presented the Schnabel sculpture with Mercedes-Benz and its Maybach division in front of the yet-to-be-completed New World Symphony designed by LA-architect, Frank Gehry. Cast in bronze over stainless steel armatures, the 3,280-lb phallic sculpture, depicting the character from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, was presented in two segments.

The debut was part of Maybach Night, a dinner and charity auction that featured five of Schnabel’s drawings, benefitting the J/P Haitian Relief Organization Foundation, a non-for-profit started by actor Sean Penn.  The auction raised $1 million dollars for rapid and effective aid to Haiti. It also coincided with the announcement of Schnabel’s participation in Wilhelm & Karl Maybach Foundation mentorship program. Over the next two years, the foundation will create various initiatives to assist young artists under the guidance of Schnabel.

Queequeq will eventually take its place among the Daimler Art Collection, but will first find inclusion in a retrospective at the Piazza San Marco and the Museo Correr during the Venice Biennale to be curated by former Exhibition Secretary at the Royal Academy of Art, Sir Norman Rosenthal. At dinner during “Maybach Night,” Jeffrey Deitch announced that a “long overdue” retrospective of Schnabel’s work is planned for his museum, scheduled to open in 2012.

Mercedes-Benz and its Maybach division also sponsored the US premiere screening of Julian Schnabel’s latest film Miral, at the Colony Theater, an Art Deco landmark on South Beach. The film, based on the novel by Rula Jebreal, traces the history of a Palestinian girl growing up in East Jerusalem. Schnabel tells this intense tale from a deeply human perspective, letting the politics emerge through each character’s real life experience.  The film stars Frieda Pinto who strikes a close resemblance to Jebreal who the main character is based on. Cameos by Vanessa Redgrave and Wilhem Dafoe are familiar faces among a cast of mostly Arabic actors. Schnabel’s daughter Stella gives as captivating performance as Lisa, a Jewish twenty-something who befriends Miral.

Schnabel announced a screening is to take place at the United Nations before the General Assembly on March 15, 2011.

Earlier in the day at a press conference hosted by Maybach, Schnabel recounted a fond memory of cruising to Philadelphia with the German artists Blinky Palermo and Sigmar Polke in a 1974 Dodge Dart and then screened a short film shot with his iPhone from the backseat of a Maybach Landaulet. Scored with “The Old Main Drag” by the Irish punk band The Pogues, Schnabel seemed to delight in the luxury of anarchy.