Lot 43
  • 43

Blinky Palermo

1,500,000 - 2,000,000 USD
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  • Blinky Palermo
  • Rot/Gelb
  • signed, titled and dated 68 on the reverse
  • cotton on canvas
  • 78 7/8 by 27 5/8 in. 200.3 by 70.2 cm.


Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Cologne
Herbig Collection
Christie's, New York, June 3, 1998, Lot 24 (consigned by the above)
Zwirner & Wirth, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2004


Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Bilder, Objekte, Filme, Konzepte, April - May 1973, p. 119, no. 186
Kassel, Staatliche Museen Kassel, Neue Galerie, Extended Permanent Loan, 1975 - 1997
Krefeld, Museum Haus Lange, Palermo Stoffbilder 1966-1972, November 1977 - January 1978, p. 38, no. 10
Kassel, Neue Galerie Staatliche und Städtische Kunstsammlungen, Kunst der sechziger Jahre in der Neuen Galerie Kassel, 1982, p. 55, illustrated
Leipzig, Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig; and Munich, Kunstraum Munich, Blinky Palermo, June - November 1993, p. 71, no. 81, illustrated in color
New York, Christie's, Painting Object Film Concept: Works from the Herbig Collection, February - March 1998, p. 180, no. 66, illustrated


Thordis Moeller, Palermo. Bilder und Objekte. Werkverzeichnisvol. 1, Bonn, 1995, n.p., no. 82, illustrated in color 

Catalogue Note

Alongside seminal figures such as Frank Stella, Donald Judd, and Dan Flavin, Blinky Palermo emancipated form and color from the pretense of illusion and representation. Akin to the legacy of these artists, Palermo’s pioneering work of the mid to late 1960s established color as an independent and meaningful entity. Indeed, in pieces such as Rot/Gelb color is no longer subordinate to anything other than the experience of its visual presence. Executed in 1968, Rot/Gelb is an archetype of the artist’s Stoffbilder, or 'cloth pictures’, a body of work that is today considered the very apex of Palermo’s contribution to both conceptual and minimalist art. Between the years of 1966 and 1972, Palermo created 56 Stoffbilder, which vary from a 78 inch square configuration through to the elegant slimmer format of the present work, and are comprised of 2-3 bands of monochrome stitched fabric. A vast number of these are today housed in museum collections; 6 examples that possess the same dimensions as the present work grace the collections of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen München, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Stätische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut Frankfurt am Main, Kunstmuseum Bielefeld, and the Staatliche Museen Kassel. Indeed, at the Staatliche Museen Kassel, the present work was on extended loan between 1975 and 1997 whilst part of the esteemed Herbig Collection. The curatorial efforts of jewellery designer Barbara Herbig and her husband, the acclaimed scientist Dr. Jost Herbig, the Herbig collection was known for its museum caliber of works by both European and American heavyweights from Gerhard Richter to Bruce Nauman. In 1998, four years after the death of Dr. Herbig, the collection was sold in a historically landmark sale, one of the first auctions of its kind. Thus, possessing spectacular provenance Rot/Gelb is a rare and pristine example from the most significant corpus of Blinky Palermo’s short but influential career.

As a student at the Dusseldorf Kunstakademie in the early sixties, Palermo was a close friend of Gerhard Richter, Konrad Lueg and Sigmar Polke, with whom he shared studios. Together, they were at the center of a nascent art scene marked by awakening and revolution. In Dusseldorf, there was a critical opposition to classic forms of art, thanks in a large part to the teachings of Joseph Beuys, who cataclysmically broke down barriers between material, form, content, and action. As one of the original Beuysritter, or Knights of Beuys, Palermo's move into Beuys' class in 1964 was attended by a shift in his approach to the medium of painting. While his earlier work had tended towards figurative painting, under Beuys he became increasingly interested in the organized spatial relationship between form and color, a polarity made manifest throughout the rest of his oeuvre and epitomized by the Stoffbilder.

Comprised of two pieces of commercially produced fabric stitched together on a sewing machine and stretched over a traditional support, the present work, and greater corpus of Stoffbilder to which it belongs, presents color as predetermined and inseparable from both its format and its material substance. In this way the Stoffbilder eliminated the steps involved in the usual painting process to create entirely new pictorial results. The color combinations chosen by Palermo are those which can theoretically be found in nature as opposed to the fabricated synthetic color of the fabric’s industrial and ready-made origin. Though comparable to Richter, who produced his iconic Color Charts from a  random selection of paint swatches and samples, Palermo instead looked to extend the remit of painting by eschewing its fundamental processes altogether. In a radical move, the Stoffbilder abandon brush, pigment, and the high ideals of Modernist abstraction in favor of the immediacy of Palermo’s ready-made pictorial invention. Part-Pop, part-Ab Ex, part-Conceptual, and part-proto-Minimalism, Palermo’s Stoffbilder inhabit a position of utmost importance in the pioneering trajectory of Twentieth-Century abstract art.