Blinky Palermo

Opened August 20, 2022, Dia Beacon

Overview

Returning to view at Dia Beacon, Times of the Day (1974–76) is a pivotal series in Blinky Palermo’s oeuvre yet one rarely seen in its entirety. Conceived by the artist after his relocation to New York from Düsseldorf in 1973, Times of the Day comprises six four-part works and originates Palermo’s serialized, multipart Metal Pictures (or Metallbilder, in German), the last body of work in his short yet pronounced career.

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Blinky Palermo’s Times of the Day series (1974–76) is comprised of six groups of four paintings on metal. Rarely seen in its entirety, this pivotal series for the artist was conceived shortly after his relocation to New York from Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1973. Each group of four panels suggests the transition from day to night. Times of the Day originates Palermo’s Metallbilder (Metal Pictures)—the last body of work in his short yet prolific career. In making the Metal Pictures, Palermo investigated the possibilities of metal as an unconventional painting support and its unique impact on color, pattern, and perception. Leading up to the Metal Pictures, the artist experimented with spatial relationships through site-specific pieces, for instance wall drawings and paintings. His Stoffbilder (Cloth Pictures) are compositions of store-bought dyed fabrics stretched like traditional paintings. For other wall-based works Palermo altered the rectangular shape of the conventional canvas. Exhibited here, the “pictorial objects” Winkel Rot-Weiss (Angle Red-White, 1965), Grünes Viereck (Green Quadrangle, 1967), and Ohne Titel (für Thordes) (Untitled (for Thordes), 1966) address the possibilities of painting even as they take on sculptural characteristics. Times of the Day continues Palermo’s focused inquiry into the material display of color, yet the series marks a departure in his practice. He sketched the six sequences on paper before executing the color-contrasting horizontal bands in acrylic paint on aluminum. On each thin, rectangular panel, Palermo layered several coats of paint to create a dense surface. Read from left to right across the wall, the works move from light to dark, alluding to the day’s progression from sunrise to noon, sunset, and dusk. Each panel is slightly projected from the wall, lifting the color, while the regular interval between panels articulates a sense of succession. Seen in full, the series advances a horizon of chromatic association that is enhanced in the context of Dia Beacon’s naturally lit galleries.

About the Metal Pictures, the artist explained: “The finished work usually consists of a sequence of colors or tones which I was unable to invent or envisage when I started it.” As painted metal objects, they recall quotidian informational signs. Yet, the smoothness of the metal’s surface results in brushwork that reveals small striations and irregularities; these subtleties attest to the manual activity of painting and lend a personal affect to the work. Palermo saw the Metal Pictures as broadening the parameters of traditional painting: “If I were to work with canvas and stretcher, the whole image of the pictures would be a completely different one.”

All exhibitions at Dia are made possible by the Economou Exhibition Fund.



1. Winkel Rot-Weiss (Angle Red-White), 1965
Oil, canvas, and wood
Dia Art Foundation

2. Grünes Viereck (Green Quadrangle), 1967
Casein, cotton, and pressboard
Private collection

3. Ohne Titel (für Thordes) (Untitled (for Thordes)), 1966
Casein and muslin on wood
Private collection

4. Times of the Day I, 1974–75
Acrylic on aluminum
Dia Art Foundation

5. Times of the Day II, 1975
Acrylic on aluminum
Dia Art Foundation

6. Times of the Day III, 1975
Acrylic on aluminum
Private collection

7. Times of the Day IV, 1976
Acrylic on aluminum
Private collection

8. Times of the Day V, 1976
Acrylic on aluminum
Private collection

9. Times of the Day VI, 1976
Acrylic on aluminum
Private collection

Blinky Palermo was born Peter Schwarze in Leipzig, Germany, in 1943. He entered the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1962, where he studied with Joseph Beuys. As of 1964 he appropriated the name of American boxing promoter and organized crime figure Frank “Blinky” Palermo. After visiting New York with Gerhard Richter in 1970, he established a studio there in 1973. Palermo died at the age of thirty-three in 1977 while traveling in the Maldives. Times of the Day was posthumously shown in the summer of 1978 at the Heiner Friedrich Gallery, New York. Before his death, he participated in more than seventy exhibitions and represented Germany at the São Paulo Biennial in 1975. Dia Art Foundation and the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College co-organized a retrospective of Palermo’s work that was on view in 2011 at Dia Beacon and CCS Bard in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and traveled nationally; additional surveys have taken place at the Kunst Museum Winterthur, Switzerland (1984); the Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (1993); the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2002–03); and the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (2007–08).

Artist

Blinky Palermo

Blinky Palermo was born in Leipzig, Germany, in 1943. He died in the Maldives in 1977.

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