Texts by Christine Mehring and Christoph Schreier

Described by The New York Times art critic Roberta Smith as a “precocious art star,” German artist (Blinky) Palermo (1943–1977) has been associated with distinct twentieth-century art practices, from abstraction to Minimalism and Conceptual art. But his diverse body of work in fact defies easy classification. Throughout his brief and influential career—leading all the way up to his untimely death at the age of 33—Palermo executed paintings, objects, installations, and works on paper that mined various contextual and semantic issues at stake in the construction, exhibition, and reception of works of art, eternally “stretching and questioning” the boundaries of every medium he touched. 

This fully illustrated catalogue features new scholarship by Christine Mehring and Christoph Schreier and documents the 2013 exhibition at David Zwirner in New York. It is the first publication to tackle Palermo’s late work, which is characterized by explorations of the tensions between material and color, surface and depth, and figuration and abstraction—focusing in particular on the paper works he produced between 1976 and 1977, the last year of his life. “Less a system builder than an analyst working on intuition,” writes Schreier in his catalogue essay, Palermo “explored surface, shape, and color—the constituent elements of the image—with the aim of turning them into actors with a lively and delicately balanced play of forces.” The simplicity of the artist’s vision is beautifully evinced by the catalogue’s vibrant color plates, which reveal every stroke and each grain of paper shining through from behind the pigment.