Imi Knoebel’s restoration at Dia: “24 Colors–For Blinky”

In the July/August issue of The Brooklyn Rail, check out my article about Imi Knoebel’s 1977 installation, which, thanks to generous funding from Gucci, has been recreated at Dia:Beacon. “After Palermo’s mysterious death at 33, Knoebel took the essential components of Palermo�s mostly small-scale work (color, shape, carefully conceived site-specific arrangement, subtle humor), and brilliantly incorporated them in a way that was both elegiac and celebratory, seamlessly fusing the aesthetic signatures of both artists. Although the color sensibility is completely Palermo�s, the careful construction, stacking, and enormity of scale recapitulates Knoebel�s earlier work with fiberboard. To accompany ’24 Colors,’ Dia invited artist Helen Mirra to install another Dia acquisition, Knoebel�s 1968 piece ‘Room 19,’ composed of 77 wood and fiberboard components, stacked and arranged like furniture in a dim storage room. The objects, simply presented in their time-worn condition�dented, darkened, and water-stained�illuminate how Knoebel�s previously monochromatic approach had evolved in the execution of ’24 Colors.’ As if possessed by Palermo�s spirit, color investigation became Knoebel�s predominant focus for the next three decades….Upon further inquiry, I learned that the panels weren�t merely restored. Rather, each was reconstructed from scratch…The wholesale recreation of Knoebel�s paintings has purged them of a not insubstantial measure of their authenticity. Remaking Donald Judd�s plywood boxes, say, or Dan Flavin�s fluorescent light installations does not detract from their real or intended artistic import because the visible subtlety of the artist�s hand is not germane to the aesthetic experience of viewing the work. But a painting itself perceptibly reflects the artist�s creative process, and cannot be reconstructed without effacing the artist�s original experience of making the piece. In painting, the aging and wear inevitably revealed over time metaphorically converts the artist�s contemporaneous emotions into emotional memories….”

Imi Knoebel: 24 Colors–For Blinky,” Dia:Beacon, Beacon, NY. Ongoing.

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