Vito Schnabel: he could be the next great art dealer, but first he has other things to do—including college – Tomorrow’s Guy With The Eye

Vito Schnabel: he could be the next great art dealer, but first he has other things to do—including college – Tomorrow’s Guy With The Eye – Critical Essay

Joey Einhorn

For nearly a month, thousands of people heading uptown from the Holland Tunnel were treated to a grand artistic display courtesy of a 17-year-old New York City native. No, it wasn’t the new graffiti pieces painted on the exterior of the building at the corner of Broome and Hudson. Rather, it was the art shining through the 20-foot-tall street-level windows that wrap around the building.

Behind those windows, in a 10,000-square-foot space, was “Incubator,” the debut curatorial effort of Vito Schnabel and his friend Jamison Ernest. Schnabel defined this showcase of work, which included pieces from seven artists from all walks of life, as truly different from any art he had ever seen. While his classmates were adjusting their college applications, Schnabel was adjusting the alignment of exotic photos by Luigi Ontani and the placement of sculptures by surfing superstar Herbie Fletcher. While his friends were meeting with their college advisers, Schnabel was meeting with the corporations that would eventually sponsor the opening, among them Red Bull Energy Drink.

Now that his show is over, Schnabel’s life is back to normal. Which means completing high school and hustling for his friends. And he has a lot of them. They come from all over the city–Fifth Avenue, the West Village, or in the case of the rapper he’s helping out, Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Schnabel’s room is a hub for everything that’s new: A friend’s screenplay is on his bed, and a classmate’s electronica demo is playing on the stereo. But visual art is his passion (it must be in the genes–his dad is artist Julian Schnabel), as suggested by the variety of paintings spread out on his floor. Their creators are convinced that Schnabel is the next Leo Castelli, the iconic gallerist who changed the face of the contemporary-art market in the ’60s, and they want to be included in a future show. Interested in buying the next big thing? Come by in an hour when he’s finished his homework.

Joey Einhorn is a writer from New York City.

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