Although often associated with varying twentieth-century art historical practices and discourses—including abstraction, Minimalism, and Conceptual Art—Palermo’s diverse body of work defies easy classification. Throughout his brief and influential career, the artist executed paintings, objects, installations, and works on paper that addressed the contextual and semantic issues at stake in the construction, exhibition, and reception of artworks. His handling of form, color, and composition comprises a complex and experimental investigation of aesthetic concepts and of the semiotic possibilities of visual language.
Palermo began working with isosceles triangles in 1965, while also investigating other geometric shapes, such as the oval, the square, the rectangle, and the trapezoid. He may have been initially drawn to the triangular form in the work of his teacher at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Joseph Beuys. Made while Palermo was still a student of Beuys, this work retains some of the mystical properties of resurrection and transformation Beuys found in the triangular shape. However, the development of Palermo's triangles throughout his career present evidence of a shift away from Beuysian metaphysics and toward material, lived experience. For Palermo, the triangle offered an unconventional shape that draws attention to the space in which it is installed; it would become a central form within his oeuvre, as he employed triangles in a number of different variations. Over the course of Palermo's career, the shapes became less and less refined and precisely rendered, moving toward a deliberate imperfection.
Ohne Titel (Untitled), ca. 1974 is reproduced in this poster on the occasion of the exhibition Palermo: Works 1973-1976.