After graduating from the University of Houston in 1973, Schnabel spent two years in an independent study program at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. In 1979 the Mary Boone Gallery in New York amazingly sold out his first show before its opening. His sudden popularity reached unprecedented heights in the modern art scene and sparked a fierce controversy among those in the art world. Ironically, the art world itself was in part responsible for what took place since it had been searching for someone like Schnabel to ignite commerce within the art world. Unfortunately, the excessive hype surrounding him resulted in many of his significant works being overlooked after the initial furor died down. However, in recent years his work has regained its popularity. Jose Luis Ferrer demonstrates the strong emphasis that Neo-Expressionist artists put on the psychological and social aspects of their works. The male figure in the center of the composition stares at the viewer in a disturbing manner. His dress resembles the attire of a priest, so the viewer assumes he is a man of God. The long expressive mark to the right of the figure attracts the attention of the viewer, who wonders what may be taking place on the canvas. This emotionally filled work is an excellent example of the way Schnabel involves the spectator in a psychological and social relationship with his work.