Julian Schnabel and Rula Jebreal (image via nypost.com)

This for your day in art world gossip — Julian Schnabel, past-his-prime 1980s neo-expressionist painter and burgeoning filmmaker — got into a screaming match with girlfriend Rula Jebreal over how NBC stylists had done her hair for an appearance on Morning Joe. Apparently the ‘do was a little too curly — Schnabel shouted “You look like Farrah Fawcett,” according to the New York Post.

The painter is notorious for being a bit of a drama queen, famously declaring himself “the next Picasso” back in his 80s heyday. Still, these theatrics are a totally ridiculous display of famous-artist egomania. Apparently the couple has a stormy relationship; Schnabel actually met Palestinian journalist Jebreal while he was still married to his now-divorced second wife. Here are the details of the NBC incident from the Post:

A second source said that [Schnabel] was belligerent and refused to take his winter coat off. As they were preparing to go on air, he was grabbing [Rula’s] hair. She kept pleading, “Please Julian, not now.” A third source said the fight started before they arrived at the studio because, “Rula was upset about a story that had been written about her family.”

The couple calmed down enough to give an interview about Schnabel’s new movie Miral, an adaptation of Jebreal’s autobiographical novel that has already drawn controversy for its outright support of Palestinians. But then the fight resumed just as they walked out the door of 30 Rockefeller. Check out the interview below.

So what’s the next career change for Julian Schnabel? A Palazzo Chupi hair salon? Just sayin’.


  • Check out Miral‘s IMDB page (5.9/10 stars, ouch) for more information, and find the film’s trailer on YouTube.
  • Blake Gopnik has an excellent NewsBeast story on the movie and on Schnabel as a personality. Though the film has drawn ire for its outright support of Palestine, Gopnik quotes Schnabel: “I don’t see it as anti-Israeli; I think it’s pro-peace.”
  • PBS documents the film’s premiere at the UN General Assembly in New York and explains how the decision to show Miral at the UN also incited controversy: “We are not aware of any other films with such contentious political content that have received this kind of endorsement from the President of the GA,” Israel’s representative at the UN said.
  • ABC notes that the film has been seen as pro-Palestinian propaganda.
  • Al Jazeera has some fascinating insights into the film:
    • Most Americans, Jew and Gentile, grew up with the Leon Uris history of the struggle for the Holy Land. Exoduschronicles the heroic birth of Israel out of the ashes of the Holocaust. There the story ends; there is no other narrative. This politically convenient and magnificently incomplete version of history remains the dominant American narrative of the tragedy known as Israel and Palestine.
  • Palestinian website Electronic Intifada didn’t like the film:
    • ” … whereas Schnabel’s previous films have focused on the intimate struggles of one man’s life, Miral’s four protagonists, with their simplistic characterizations, emerge with no real inner life.”
  • See also, filmmaker David Lynch‘s hair as compared to famous works of art.

Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

9 replies on “Julian Schnabel Screams Over GF’s Hair on NBC”

  1. I love your piece on Julian Scnabel. What delicious gossip. He is in the current issue of ARTnews–a show opening in Toronto and one in North America. He’s having rating problems with the MPAA right now on this film.

      1. You must never have seen his paintings… or heard about the little fictional tidbit about Robert Hughes he wanted to include in his memoirs… which he wrote back in 1987 before he was even 40… or seen his excremental and self-serving act of necrophilia that was Basquiat.

          1. Haven’t… but even if they were brilliant, he is still a pile of shit, as are his paintings and at least one of his movies.

          2. If you had produced his body of work I would say you are also “a supremely talented man”. That does not preclude you from also being “a pile of shit”. From this conversation I presume you are neither.

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