Untitled, Blinky Palermo, oil on canvas, 37 3/8” x 31 3/4”, 1964. Collection Stroher, Darmstadt, Germany.
Blinky Palermo died in 1977 at the tender age of 33, leaving behind a body of work that has cemented his reputation as one of the foremost painters of his generation. Long celebrated in Europe, Palermo’s work is rarely seen in the US and he is relatively unknown compared to his contemporaries Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke. “Blinky Palermo: Retrospective 1964-1977,” curated by Lynne Cooke, Dia Curator at Large, is the first comprehensive North American retrospective of the German abstract artist. Being exhibited simultaneously at Dia:Beacon and at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, the 60 works in the show, drawn primarily from German collections, are completing a tour of the US that included the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The retrospective documents the distinct phases of Palermo’s evolution, from the objects created while still under the sway of Joseph Beuys after his graduation from the Dusseldorf Art Academy to his late metal pictures. The show also includes examples of the work he is most famous for, his fabric paintings, simple lengths of colored material stretched over a frame. As Tom Eccles and Philippe Vergne note in the introduction to the publication accompanying the show, Palermo’s work isn’t painting against painting, as was the work of some of his contemporaries, but painting beyond painting, defying clear placement within a fixed tradition.
This joint exhibition between Dia: Beacon and CCS Bard marks the first major collaboration between the region’s two marquee modern art museums. “Blinky Palermo: Retrospective 1964-1977” will be exhibited at Dia: Beacon and CCS Bard June 25 through October 31. Dia:Beacon: www.diaart.org; CCS Bard: www.bard.edu/ccs.