Sale: 545 / Evening Sale, Dec. 08. 2023 in Munich Lot 61


Blinky Palermo
Ohne Titel, 1976/77.
Acrylic on aluminum, 8 parts
Post auction sale: € 600,000 / $ 630,000
Ohne Titel. 1976/77.
Acrylic on aluminum, 8 parts.
Each inscribed "I" to "VIII" as well as with a direction arrow on the reverse. Unique object. 26.7 x 21 x 0.2 cm (10.5 x 8.2 x 0 in). Distance between the plates and the wall: 1.7 cm. Distance between the plates: 21 cm. Total dimensions: 26.7 cm (10.5 in.) x 315 cm (124 in.) x 1.7 cm (0.6 in.). [JS].

• This is the last work by the exceptional artist who died at only 33 years, along with Richter and Polke, he was the most progressive German artist of the 1960s and 1970s.
• Palermo's multi-part metal pictures were made at the peak of his creativity, nearly all of them are in renowned international collections today.
• Singular in Palermo's oeuvre – the beginning of a new creative phase: in a free gesture and with not only four but eight parts.
• Made between Palermo's return from New York (1976) and his departure to the Maldives (1977), this last work was still in his Düsseldorf studio after Palermo's death

Accompanied by a certificate issued by the Blinky Palermo Estate from January 2016. The work is registered in the archive.

PROVENANCE: Artist's estate.
Michael Heisterkamp, the artist's brother.
Private collection Germany (acquired from the above).

EXHIBITION: Beuys + Palermo, Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Tokyo, April 3 - June 20, 2021 / The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, June 10 - September 5, 2021 / The national Museum of Art, Osaka, October 12, 2021 - January 16, 2022, cat. no. 52 (fig. p. 270 and detail photos p. 271).
Hommage à Palermo, Museum Wiesbaden, May 17 - October 28, 2018, no cat. (

LITERATURE: Palermo. Werke 1963-1977, ex. cat. Kunstmuseum Winterthur / Kunsthalle Bielefeld / Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, Munich 1984, fig. p. 140 (photo of the work in Blinky Palermo's studio after his death in 1977, shot by Imi Knoebel).
Palermo - who knows the beginning and who knows the end?, ex. cat. Westfälisches Landesmuseum Münster / Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Heidelberg 2011, p. 27 (fig.)
Beuys + Palermo, ex. cat. Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Tokyo, / The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama / The national Museum of Art, Osaka, Tokyo 2021, cat. no. 52 (fig. p. 270 and detail photos p. 271).
Dieter Ronte, 1994, quoted from: Palermo. Bilder, Objekte, Zeichnungen, ex. cat. Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn 1995, p. 11.

Palermo: Non-Conformist and Progressive – Dislimitating Boundaries of Form and Color

The oeuvre that Blinky Palermo created over 15 years before his sudden death at the age of 33 is small and of outstanding art-historical significance. In 1977, Palermo died on the Maldives island of Kurumba while on vacation with with his girlfriend Babett. By then he had created a courageous work characterized by a stylistic and formal progressiveness that was not only formative for other remarkable artists of his generation, among them Imi Knoebel or Gerhard Richter, but also for the most outstanding artists of subsequent generations. Shortly after he had joined the class of Joseph Beuys at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in 1964, Palermo, born Peter Heisterkamp, fellow students noticed a certain likeness to the American mafia affiliated box promoter Frank "Blinky" Palermo because of his casual look with sunglasses and leather jacket, soon after everyone called him Blinky Palermo. As early as in 1964, Palermo, who had just begun to study in Beuys' class, overcame early student experiments by creating a two meter tall, untitled , painted stick, thus creating a bold definition of his new pictorial concept in an instant. "It's a provocation: the color acts like in a painting, but the object leaves no room for it to act as an 'image'." (Erich Franz, Palermo – Freiheit des Sehens, in: Palermo – who knows the beginning and who knows the end?, ex. cat. Landesmuseum Münster / Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, 2011, p. 15). In 1965, he exhibited under his adopted artist name Blinky Palermo for the first time, he had his first solo exhibitions even before he completed his studies in 1967. In 1972, he took part in documenta 5 in Kassel, where, among others, the American artist Robert Ryman showed early works with monochrome structures. While Palermo's short life was extremely intense and restless, he would never miss out an opportunity, least on a party, his work, from the beginning on, is characterized by a fascinating unity and rigor. The complex, experimental handling of form and color, which Palermo sought to liberate to the max, is typical of all of his creative phases. Palermo dislimitated and overcame traditional painting. Palermo conceived painting and object art as one, developed new formats, created minimalist murals, and, among other things, was open to using new types of image carriers for his fabric and metal paintings, while he always had the of art and space in mind.

Palermo's Final Creative Phase (1974–1977) - Multi-Part Works on Metal as Both Essence and Apex of His Creation
The oeuvre that Palermo left behind in 1977 can be divided into three creative phases: In early works (1962–1967) made during his time as a student at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, Palermo began to explore the possibilities of painterly means in the form of canvas-, object- and first material images. A second creative phase spanned the years between 1968 and 1973. A period characterized by an increased minimization of the painting in his fabric pictures and his spatial murals towards pure coloring and an expansion into its surrounding space. Palermo's central aim was to free color from its formal and material limitations of form and image support. In addition to monochrome, geometric wall designs, almost all of which are unfortunately no longer preserved today, he made "shaped canvases" and multi-part wall objects during this time. Works that show clear parallels to the contemporary work of American Minimal Art and Hard Edge. Like Frank Stella, Barnett Newman, Brice Marden or Walter de Maria, Palermo also tried to leave the formal boundaries of the classic panel painting behind in the 1960s and to explore the relationship of art and space. Palermo, who also worked as bartender in the legendary art bar ‘Creamcheese’ during these years playing pinball all night long, developed reduced artistic creations that - partly in giant format, partly as objects, or executed directly on the wall - interact with their surrounding space. Then there is Palermo's last, mature creative phase, predominantly happening in the USA between 1974 and his early death in 1977. Our work on aluminum is a prime example from this period. It is the last work that Palermo created before leaving for the Maldives. The formally and stylistically completely new, 8-part work is documented by photographs that Palermo's friend Imi Knoebel shot in his Düsseldorf studio immediately after Blinky’s death. After he had returned from New York, Palermo took over the premises on Harkottstrasse from his artist friend Gerhard Richter in 1976 . Palermo's last creative phase constitutes the apex of his work, it is the sum of everything that had been made before. Palermo almost exclusively created multi-part works, among them his first multi-part paintings on steel and on thin aluminum panels that seem to float in front of the wall.

In these extremely rare multi-part works on metal, which today are considered his most important works, Palermo for the first time succeeded in staging the intrinsic value of the color in maximum freedom from the wall and the picture support through the hardness and impermeability of the image carrier. In these works, of which the series “To the people of New York City” (1976/77, Dia Art Foundation, NY) with a total of 40 aluminum panels with strictly geometric, flat compositions in cadmium red, yellow and black is considered the highlight, Palermo took his efforts to break down the boundaries of color to the extreme and dared to do something completely new, both in terms of technique and form. This bold step was formative for the later work of Imi Knoebel, Gerhard Richter and Günther Förg. The precisely defined sequence of picture and wall can be understood as a rhythm that links colored surfaces and immaterial space. Palermo found inspiration in American jazz music, especially in the work of Thelonious Monk and Stevie Wonder. Palermo took part in the XIII Biennial in São Paulo in 1975 with metal pictures. In 1976 - directly before the present work was created - Palermo staged a multi-part work at the German Pavilion at the XXXVII Venice Biennale. Palermo had reached the peak of his creativity. Looking back at the first Palermo exhibition at Galerie Heiner Friedrich and Dahlem in Munich (1966), Franz Dahlem emphasized the completely new character of Palermo's art: "And then we had the exhibition, and it was so different from our 15 previous ones. Palermo had his things sent to Munich through a shipping company. They were all over the gallery, still unpacked. Some of them were multi-part works that we would never have been able to install on our own. Because we had no idea that a work of art could be made of several parts, that simply didn't exist at that point. [..] They weren't altarpieces, but rather monochrome or abstract works made up of several parts." (quoted from: D. M. Marcovicz (ed.), "To the people.." Sprechen über Blinky Palermo, Cologne 2003, p. 118f.).

An 8 Part Metal Work of Floating Lightness and Sensual Freshness - the Start of a New Phase Before Palermo's Early Death
"With two series on small aluminum panels, Palermo started something new. Open, permeable, almost cloudy color phenomena, which he previously only realized as 'drawings' on paper, act in relation to the solid panels. [..] A second series is even more unusual; it consists of eight small panels, all of which are painted in lemony yellow over a white primer. The first four show broad green brushstrokes in the yellow, appearing like blown away, while the other four do without additional painting. [.] There is no comparable work by Palermo [..] the observer gets the idea that these works are borne by a new approach, by luminous color, by an effortless liberation - perhaps." (E. Franz, in: Palermo - who knows the beginning and who knows the end?, ex. cat. Westfälisches Landesmuseum Münster / Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, 2011, p. 27) The character of these eight color plates is floating and extremely delicate, which, in their finely orchestrated sequence, merge into a wonderful color sound that allows the spiritual power of color to be experienced. The lemony yellow that is applied all over the white ground appears as if it had fleetingly drifted away; on the first four panels it is crossed by broad brushstrokes in soft green, in which the horizontal, vertical and diagonal structure of the previous, strictly geometric works developed from Malevich's Suprematist painting and American Hard Edge can still be seen. It is precisely through the juxtaposition of these panels with the four monochrome ones that the feeling of a tense emptiness arises, of the awareness of the absence of form, which on the lemon-yellow panels appears to have slipped out of the format section. This cut-out and subtle disbalance creates a compositional movement of color, seemingly captured in a fleeting moment. Placed on thin aluminum panels floating in front of the wall, the materiality of the image carrier appears to dissolve and the color, emancipated from the background, connects with the surrounding space. The sequence of picture and wall, precisely defined by Palermo through the numbering on the reverse, creates an optical rhythm that links colored surfaces and immaterial space. To date, Palermo's works on aluminum have predominantly been in four parts; this work is his first and last eight-part work. The painting of the American Robert Ryman certainly provided key inspiration for this rhythmic multi-part creations, and, above all, for the completely non-representational monochrome art, which became increasingly important in the late and even final work by Palermo. Ryman and Palermo participated in documenta 5 in 1972, and his works, which are based on the flow, must have become even more important for Palermo during his stay in America (1974–1976).

Today Palermo and his work are an internationally renowned myth. He was an exceptional talent that died far too early; his non-conformity and enormous creative power made for a potential from which so many significant things could have come. Our powerful, liberated, multi-part work just marked the beginning of a new work phase and is therefore, along with only one comparable four-part work in yellow (part of a German private collection), the only work that provides a hint at what could have followed. The art dealer Franz Dahlem, a close friend of the artist as of 1964, emphasized that his time had not yet come, that he was tragically ahead of his time and ahead of what society could hand art-wise: "That's why we have this tragedy in Germany that our important artists often die at a young age. People then say that he died in World War I, or Palermo died in Sri Lanka because of something. People then wonder why, because of drugs or something like that. Jimmy Hendrix or Janis Joplin died because they overdosed – that’s all nonsense! They were taken away again [..] because society couldn’t handle them [..]." (quoted from: Digne M. Marcovicz (ed.), "To the people.." Sprechen über Blinky Palermo, Cologne 2003, p. 127). [JS]

Blinky Palermo
Ohne Titel, 1976/77.
Acrylic on aluminum, 8 parts
Post auction sale: € 600,000 / $ 630,000


Buyer's premium, taxation and resale right compensation for Blinky Palermo "Ohne Titel"
This lot can be purchased subject to differential or regular taxation, artist‘s resale right compensation is due.

Differential taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 32 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 27 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 22 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The buyer's premium contains VAT, however, it is not shown.

Regular taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 27 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 21% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 15% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The statutory VAT of currently 19 % is levied to the sum of hammer price and premium. As an exception, the reduced VAT of 7 % is added for printed books.

We kindly ask you to notify us before invoicing if you wish to be subject to regular taxation.

Calculation of artist‘s resale right compensation:
For works by living artists, or by artists who died less than 70 years ago, a artist‘s resale right compensation is levied in accordance with Section 26 UrhG:
4 % of hammer price from 400.00 euros up to 50,000 euros,
another 3 % of the hammer price from 50,000.01 to 200,000 euros,
another 1 % for the part of the sales proceeds from 200,000.01 to 350,000 euros,
another 0.5 % for the part of the sale proceeds from 350,000.01 to 500,000 euros and
another 0.25 % of the hammer price over 500,000 euros.
The maximum total of the resale right fee is EUR 12,500.

The artist‘s resale right compensation is VAT-exempt.