Julian Schnabel (right) directs Mathieu Amalric in "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." Photo: Walker Art Center.

Julian Schnabel (left) directs Mathieu Amalric in "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." Photo: Walker Art Center.

 Andy Warhol goofed around with a movie camera and British artist Steve McQueen made a big splash with his I.R.A. prison drama “Hunger,” but no contemporary art star has made as strong an impression in the feature film world as Julian Schnabel. A potentate of New York’s downtown gallery scene since the 1970s, he’s also a winner of best director awards at Cannes and the Golden Globes. Whether it's painting a 20-foot-tall canvas or filling a cinema screen with light, Schnabel exudes masterful confidence and control.

Beginning March 4, Walker Art Center will host a retrospective of Schnabel’s films. He will discuss his work in a Regis Dialogue, 8 p.m. March 19.

After the untimely death of his colleague Jean-Michel Basquiat, Schnabel decided that he was the person most qualified to represent his friend's life on film. His 1996 debut feature “Basquiat” (7:30, March 4) starring Jeffrey Wright as the late artist, was an assured, accomplished, visually vibrant arthouse hit. He moved on to a larger canvas with  “Before Night Falls” (7:30, March 11) a portrait of dissident Cuban poet/political prisoner Reinaldo Arenas, starring Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp in a dual role as a sympathetic transvestite and a cruel prison guard. He returned to the theme of a creative life cut short in his French-language biopic of a Paris magazine editor completely paralyzed by a massive stroke, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (7:30, March 12).
The retrospective will include a screening of the Lou Reed concert film “Berlin” (showing free at 7:30, March 17), and the area premiere of his newest feature, the Mideast political drama “Miral” (starring Freida Pinto of “Slumdog Millionaire;” 7:30, March 18).
Admission for films is $8 ($6 Walker members and students), or four films for $24 ($18). Please call the box office at (612) 375-7600 for the discount. Tickets for the Regis Dialogue are $20 ($15 Walker members and students).

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