Imi Knoebel's minimalist hybrids of painting and sculpture explore relationships between colour and structure. Knoebel studied under Joseph Beuys at the Düsseldorf Art Academy which also inspired his first important work Raum 19, honouring the number of Beuys' classroom.Read More
The stylistic and formal concerns of Knoebel's work can be associated with the modernist principles of Kazimir Malevich and the Bauhaus.While his early pieces were black and white, as in the series Linienbildern (Line Paintings) (1966–1969), he began to employ vibrant, saturated color in 1974 with his friend and classmate Blinky Palermo, to whom he would dedicate 24 Farben für Blinky ('24 Colors for Blinky') (1977), a series of brightly coloured irregular shapes. In the '80s, Knoebel produced his series of Portraits, made up of three vertical rectangles and two horizontal ones, arranged in different nuances of colours from time to time. In 1988, he created Kinderstern, a social sculpture that followed the example of his master Beuys according to whom art should also have a social role and should aim at changing society.
The 'Anima Mundi' series have a particular position among Knoebel's works of art, as their title borrows a philosophical term inspired by Botticelli's Venus in the light of Plotinus's teachings on the soul. Apart from the title, they respect the formal elements of non-representational art, and when solely beholding these works, they may lead to another cosmos for which their form is merely aesthetic. Perhaps his most notable achievement and the most significant honour bestowed on him to date, is the major commission of nine large stained-glass windows for the Reims Cathedral installed in 2011 and 2015.
His works can be found in some of the most important private and public collections all over the world and were shown in several solo shows, including Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich, Switzerland (2018); Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21, Düsseldorf, Germany (2015); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2009); Dia: Beacon, New York (2008), and Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany (2004), to mention a few. In 1996 the Haus der Kunst in Munich organized a wide retrospective show, later travelling around various European locations such as the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Institute of Modern Art in Valencia.
Knoebel lives and works in Düsseldorf.
Text courtesy Dep Art Gallery.