Blinky Palermo

Year and place of birth: 1943, Leipzig, Germany Date of death: 1977 , Vihamanaafushi, Maldives

Barely ten years elapsed between Blinky Palermo’s first solo show in 1966 in Munich and his last participation in an exhibition, at the Venice Biennale in 1976. The oeuvre created in this period was divided into four groups: ‘Objekte’ (from 1964), ‘Stoffbilder’ (1966-72), drawn and painted murals (1968-73) and ‘Metallbilder’ (from around 1973). In these groups, the artist radically broke open the accepted definitions of the painting. He developed his entire oeuvre around colour and its assumed form. It made him one of the key figures of the avant-garde in the 1960s and 70s. Brief through Palermo’s career was, his life and work has since acquired a mythical status.

Palermo was well-supported. After studying sculpture and graphics in Münster, he moved to the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf in 1962, which became one of the most famous art schools in Western Europe during the 1960s and 70s. It was here that he became the protégé of Joseph Beuys. He adopted the artistic name Palermo (‘Blinky’ for his friends) in line with the example of Frank ‘Blinky’ Palermo, an infamous American gangster who he physically resembled. The name attests to the artist’s love of American culture, lifestyle and painting, in particular Abstract Expressionism.

At the Düsseldorf academy, Palermo became friends with Imi Knoebel and Gerhard Richter, two artists who had moved from East to West Germany just like he had. They all wanted to paint, despite the fact that painting was considered socially irrelevant at that time. During a trip to Amsterdam in 1964, Palermo felt drawn to work by the constructivists Kasimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian. This galvanised him to continue building on the achievements of abstract painting. In 1973, he moved to New York in order to work in closer proximity to the art of Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko and to the world of jazz. In 1976 he returned to Düsseldorf. He died during a holiday to the Maldives in 1977.

Works Blinky Palermo

Become a Friend of S.M.A.K.
made by