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The highpoint of the winter season in Engadine came early this year: On December 28th and in the company of wealthy art-lovers / aficionados and international jetsetters, the New York art dealer and curator, Vito Schnabel, is opening his new gallery in the prestigious ski resort town of St. Moritz.

The son of famous American painter, Julian Schnabel, is well-connected in the international art world/scene and should / is expected to bring/blow fresh wind into the Swiss art scene. A mainstay in Glitterati circles, his relationship with successful German supermodel, Heidi Klum, who attended the opening, has dominated the headlines of tabloids for the past two years. Prior to that he dated actress, Demi Moore and model Elle Macpherson. He counts the Reederei-heir (shipping holding company) Greek Starvos Niarchos Jr. as a personal friend, whose family owns the Kulm Hotel in St. Moritz and invites/hosts Schnabel to the hottest annual party at Art Basel Miami.

The 29 year old Vito Schnabel has already made a lasting impact / notable impression on the American contemporary art market / scene since the tender age of 19, when he discussed the highly competitive Manhattan art market during his first significant/notable exhibition which featured paintings of American painter, Ron Gorchov. Since then he (Schnabel) built upon these initial successes and has curated important art exhibitions in New York, Venice, and London.

In recent years he has held/hosted/ several notable shows at the Zurich gallery of Bruno Bischofberger where he claims/hosts the showrooms in Via Mainstra in St. Moritz. There Schnabel exhibits works of the New York-living artist, Urs Fischer, who is considered as one of the foremost contemporary Swiss artists, and - in the courtyard opposite of the Kulm Hotel gallery - works of the LA-living American, Sterling Ruby.

It will be Fischer’s first Swiss exhibition in eight years, who produces his huge format works in his Brooklyn studio. Schnabel also pays homage to Bruno Bischofberger, the eminent Swiss gallerist, who Schnabel has known and respected/looked up to since childhood.

In the second week of February, Schnabel hosts a preview of new works / paintings of his father, Julian Schnabel, who, like Fischer, is a friend of the “large format” style. The painter will not miss the chance to be there in person, and is, like his son, a long-time fan/supporter of Engadin. St. Moritz is thereby well prepared for “cultural politics” during the winter season.

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Julian Schnabel and the color purple

Julian Schnabel welcomes us in his “Pallazzo Chupi”, a Venetian palace converted from an old factory in the West Village near the Hudson River in New york, dressed in purple pajamas, whose state indicates that he must have acquired them shortly after his first solo-museum exhibition. That was in 1975 at the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston. From then on it was a steep climb for the 1951-born son of Jewish parents from New York, who, since the mid-eighties, is considered the leading representative of neo expressionism. Numerous exhibitions, that among others include the 1980 Venice Biennial, contributed to his rise.  

Schabel has held this position since 1987 when he published his autobiography on which the Image “Sunspot” is printed. Shortly before his 65th birthday next year, a new edition of the out-of-print classic “CVJ Nicknames of Maitre D’s & Other Excerpts from Life” is being released by the German publisher Hatje Cantz. In the faded purple Palazzo, an entire floor is dedicated to his studio, we are allowed to admire large-format abstract paintings while the master himself explains the way that light and shadows play off the violet background - available soon in St. Moritz.