The Colors Of Imi Knoebel

Imi Knoebel is widely admired for his body of “Minimalist painting that defies standard pictorial conventions and has drawn comparison with the work of the influential Russian modernist Kazimir Malevich.” He was known for black and white sculptures until the death of a friend began what is now seen as a very important exploration in color for the art world. In ‘24 Colors – for Blinky‘ a homage to his friend and fellow artist Blinky Palermo, Imi created a series of 24 colorful monochromes, these would become a driver for the colorful work he has done over the past 30 years.

Photo by VernissageTV Didier Didier

When adopting color for the first time in 1977, Knoebel steadfastly held to his materialist aesthetic. Each component in this epic series is a monochrome polygon. Eschewing familiar geometric shapes, such as rectangles, squares, rhomboids, or trapezoids, Knoebel has conceived each complex form as a unique entity that defies easy identification. Similarly, while each hue is indubitably specific, the collective effect exceeds what can be readily remembered; the result is that in this series color is not used conventionally. Less an expressive or referential device, it assumes an abstract character, which in its polyphony comes to signify color tout court. In these and related ways, Knoebel at once extended his ongoing elliptical investigation into the identity of painting and, for the first time, embraced what is traditionally considered its quintessential feature-color-at its most vital and intense.
– ‘24 Colors – for Blinky



In an exhibition currently running at two locations of the Dia Art Foundation, one, the original ’24 Colors – for Blinky’ and, the other, 35 of the 80 knife cut colored paper collages in an untitled series that Imi has done in the time since 1977, where we get to see exactly what has come of Imi’s 30 year study of color. On first examination of the works, as pointed out by Benjamin Genocchio in the New York Times article on the exhibition, one might only see scattered, seemingly unorganized scraps of paper but with closer inspection you can see the thoughtful attention put into each piece as the different textures, types of surfaces, and elevations – which cast playful shadows, become apparent.



It is hard to miss Mr. Knoebel’s careful contrasting of color opposites to give the collages a bit of added dynamism and zing.

More Colorful Work by Imi Knoebel














Images from here, here and here.

Author: evad
David Sommers has been loving color as COLOURlovers' Blog Editor-in-Chief for the past two years. When he's not neck deep in a rainbow he's loving other things with The Post Family (, a Chicago-based art blog, artist collective & gallery.