Not Afraid of Red, Yellow, and Blue
Imi Knoebel at the Deutsche Guggenheim
The Deutsche Bank Collection has been closely following Imi Knoebel's oeuvre for the past 25 years. Today, more than 1,000 works by the former Beuys student document his artistic development from 1968 to the immediate present. Now, parallel to his exhibition "Zu Hilfe, Zu Hilfe" at the New National Gallery in Berlin, the two-part show "ICH NICHT/ENDUROS" at the Deutsche Guggenheim provides insight into the full spectrum of Knoebel's nonobjective art. On view first are spatial works, followed by over 200 works from the Deutsche Bank Collection.
||Light blue, lemon yellow, and dark red lengths of wood are suspended in front of a hot pink background. They intersect freely, like colorful boards floating on a river of color. Fishing Pink (2009) is one of the most recent works on show in the two-part
Imi Knoebel exhibition ICH NICHT/ENDUROS at the Deutsche Guggenheim. The show enables viewers to follow Knoebel's investigation of form and color in all its multiple facets. The Dusseldorf-based artist represents a reduced form of conceptual painting; his inimitable style has inspired younger generations of artists. The exhibition was conceived by Friedhelm Hütte, Global Head Art, Deutsche Bank, in close cooperation with the artist. The first part focuses on the current wall and spatial works. Titled ICH NICHT, in English NOT I, the show offers an answer to Barnett Newman's question "Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow, and Blue?" In the paintings of his 2006 series Ich nicht, Knoebel responds to these primary colors-red, yellow, and blue-whose mixture gives rise to all other colors. The interplay of monochromatic surfaces results in a variety of different color combinations. The traces left behind by paintbrushes, the various different ways the paint is applied, and the combination of matte and shiny areas lends a certain tension to the paintings. Ort - Blau Rot Rot Gelb (2009), in English Location-Blue Red Red Yellow, is one of the key installations in the Berlin exhibition hall and carries this work into the third dimension. Three-meter-high aluminum panels, each painted in one of the three primary colors, join together in this installation to form an open space that veritably immerses the viewer in color. This work represents another investigation into color field painting and Newman's famous painting series made between 1966 and 1970. At the same time, the installation invites the viewer to simply look and to experience the sensuous effects of the color space in a direct and immediate way.
ENDUROS, the second part of the show, documents the development of Knoebel's nonobjective formal vocabulary with over 200 collages, drawings, photographs, and prints from the Deutsche Bank Collection. For over 25 years, the bank has been continuously acquiring and exhibiting works by the artist, who was born in Dessau in 1940. In 1986, an entire floor in the twin towers in Frankfurt was dedicated to his work. One of the earliest works in the Deutsche Bank Collection is a series made between 1968 and 1972, for which Knoebel photographed his projections into urban space: glowing crosses and rectangles of light incise themselves upon the night, draping themselves over building facades and churches. Knoebel took the basic forms with which Kazimir Malevich revolutionized art at the beginning of the 20th century and projected them onto interior and exterior spaces. He has been further developing the legacy of Russian Suprematism since his days as a student of Joseph Beuys at the Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf from 1965 through 1971. The collision with real space makes these geometric forms of light shatter and dissolve into trembling lines and floating fragments that can later be found in his drawings. Over the course of more than four decades, Knoebel's abstract work has continuously developed to encompass monochromatic paintings, huge plywood installations, colorful knife cuts, and gestural drawings, playing through the full register of possibilities in nonobjective art. Thus, ICH NICHT/ ENDUROS at the Deutsche Guggenheim is not merely a static retrospective, but a current taking stock of an oeuvre in a continuous process of transformation that returns again and again to certain artistic questions in order to develop entirely new answers each time.
Imi Knoebel: ICH NICHT / ENDUROS
5/23 - 6/26 and 7/4 - 8/2/2009
Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin