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White Gray Black

Blinky Palermo (German, 1943–1977)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

German painter. He established his independent position as a painter while still studying under Joseph Beuys at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, insisting on the expressive possibilities of painting at a time when this was considered reactionary by many artists.

From 1964, the year in which he assumed the name of a mafioso and boxing promoter, Palermo experimented with colourful pictures with a strong object quality. Between 1966 and 1972 he produced a series of c. 65 Fabric Pictures, such as Fabric Picture in Black, Green and Brown (fabric strips with calico backing, 2.0×1.7 m, 1969; Krefeld, Kaiser Wilhelm Mus.), which consists of three coloured cotton cloths of different widths sewn together as an abstract image of horizontal bands. He radically redefined painting in these works by taking the colour and material quality ready-made from department-store fabrics and by having them stitched together by others. His apparent repudiation both of invention and of his personal involvement in the production of the work allied him to developments at that time in conceptual art.

From 1968 Palermo produced murals and wall drawings (all destr.) that intervened directly in the architectural space, but from 1972 he executed his paintings on steel or aluminium. Many of these were made in New York, where he lived from December 1973 until his death four years later during a trip through south-west Asia. His work, often characterized by a sense of stillness or fragility, could be related to both Constructivism and Minimalism in its use of geometrical structures. Its emphasis, however, is on colour and surface, which makes it difficult to classify stylistically; there are elements, for example, of gestural abstraction and even of the human figure in fragmentary form. His reliance on poetic titles indicates the extent to which he saw his work as expressing emotion or the moods of the seasons.

Walter Vitt
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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