Works 1973-1976 Press Release


February 26—April 11, 2015

David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of works by German artist Palermo (1943-1977) at the gallery’s 537 West 20th Street location. The exhibition, organized in collaboration with the Palermo Archive, will feature a selection of rarely shown paintings, objects, and large-scale drawings made by the artist between 1973 and 1976.

Although often associated with particular twentieth century art historical practices and discourses—including abstraction, Minimalism, and Conceptual Art—Palermo’s diverse body of work defies easy classification. Throughout his brief and influential career, Palermo executed paintings, “objects,” installations, wall drawings, and works on paper that addressed the contextual and semantic issues at stake in the construction, exhibition, and reception of works of art. His handling of form, color, and composition comprises a complex and experimental investigation of aesthetic concepts and of the semiotic possibilities of visual language.

The exhibition will include significant examples of the artist’s objects, a self-coined category of work comprised of three-dimensional forms that hang or lean on a wall and seem to simultaneously occupy the realms of both painting and sculpture. Among these works is Objekt mit Wasserwage (Object with Spirit Level), 1969-1973, a shaped canvas that incorporates a leveling tool, thereby physically referring to the construction and installation of the artist’s work, while also pointing to the surrounding architectural and exhibition context. Also on view will be a selection of Palermo’s “Metallbilder,” or “Metal Pictures,” begun by the artist in late 1973. Executed in acrylic on thin sheets of aluminum or steel, these paintings explore the tensions and contrasts between material and color; surface and depth; and signification and abstraction; thus exemplifying his ongoing experimentation with the symbolic and formal possibilities of composition and color. The exhibition will also present an installation of large-scale works on paper from 1974. These subtly rendered drawings explore systematically related arrangements of parallelograms and will be presented together for the first time since they were originally installed at Heiner Friedrich, New York in 1974.

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