Lot 50
  • 50

Blinky Palermo

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Blinky Palermo
  • Captagon 
  • signed, titled and dated 69
  • watercolour on photocopied paper laid down on card
  • 96 by 68cm.; 37 3/4 by 26 3/4 in.


Galerie Thomas Borgmann, Cologne 

Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich 

Private Collection, Germany 

Sale: Christie’s, New York, Contemporary Art, 4 June 1998, Lot 126

Schönewald Fine Arts, Xanten

Zwirner & Wirth, New York

Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2003


Munich, Kunstraum München; Nuremberg, Institut für Moderne Kunst; and Bonn, Städtisches Kunstmuseum, Palermo. Zeichnungen 1963-73, 1974-75, p. 70, illustrated in colour

Barcelona, Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona; and London, Serpentine Gallery, Blinky Palermo, 2002-03, p. 25, illustrated in colour

Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Washington D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; and New York, Dia Art Foundation, Dia: Beacon and CCS Bard, Blinky Palermo: Retrospective 1964-1977, 2010-11, p. 92, illustrated in colour


Thordis Moeller, Palermo: Zeichnungen, Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. II, Stuttgart 1995, n.p., no. 353, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Standing among the artist’s most important works on paper, Captagon  the brand name for the stimulant fenethylline – is a pivotal example of Blinky Palermo’s explorations into the configuration of space. Documenting the artist’s enduring sensibility to a varied visual syntax, Palermo’s works on paper are integral to his oeuvre and are held in illustrious collections throughout the world including that of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Tate, London. A contemporary of Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under the tutelage of Joseph Beuys, Palermo became increasingly interested in the organised spatial relationship between form and colour, a polarity that is perfectly manifested in the self-referential quality of Captagon. Widely exhibited on the international stage, Captagon presents the viewer with a compelling tour de force of Palermo’s most celebrated themes.

In the present work the intriguing figure-ground relationship calls to attention the constraints of the paper’s edges. The intuitively applied paint in Captagon is not limited by the boundaries of the paper; instead, it freely strays onto additional pieces, its flow of movement dictating the placement of these supplementary sheets. By challenging the concept of a single, contained support in this innovative work Blinky Palermo opens up pictorial space and challenges our comprehension of line. As the critic James Lawrence adds, “although the title hints at the conditions under which this striking work might have arisen...it is useful to consider how this composition deals with… delineation without determination, or how a line can evade circumscription by the conventional pictorial boundaries. Palermo was activating space by reconfiguring it” (James Lawrence, ‘Unfolding: Palermo on Paper’ in: Exhibition Catalogue, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (and travelling), Blinky Palermo: Retrospective 1964-1977, 2010-11, p. 93).