Imi Knoebel is a German painter and sculptor best known for his minimalist painting and sculpture exploring relationships between color and structure. Born in Dessau (Germany) in 1940, he studied at the Darmastadt School of Arts and Crafts (1962-1964) and at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he met Joseph Beuys and Blinky Palermo.
In 1968, while he was still a student under Joseph Beuys, his first artwork “Raum 19”, consisted on 77 parts – stretchers, planar elements, stereometrics and rectangular volumes – created from wood and fiberboard, which has been used “raw”, in an untreated state. The simple conditions of these geometric elements give the impression that they await future deployment. “Raum 19” is considered as a key work in Knoebel’s career, giving a sense of his aesthetic and the beginning of his experimentation between painting and sculpture.
Imi Knoebel initially dealt mainly with line images, light projections, and white images by taking a strong reductionist position. Even though his early work was often monographic, in 1974, he started using colors with his friend, Blinky Palermo, to whom he dedicated 24 Colors for Blinky (1977), a series of brightly colored irregular shapes. In the same decade, he also experimented colored wood and aluminum panels, creating scale sculpture. Knoebel also worked in projection as a medium, though throughout these explorations he maintained his focus on the square and the grid as central elements.
Imi Knoebel has been mainly influenced by his teacher Joseph Beuys but also Malevitch with the idea of dematerialization and the emergence of “pure” forms. The work of Knoebel is a work that holds the eye by playing with the usual arrangements between backgrounds and colors. His approach mainly focuses on the quality of the surface and the thickness of the work.
His work can be found in the permanent exhibitions of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Fonds Regional d’Art Contemporain (FRAC) in France, the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen in Swisterland, the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea, amongst others.
Imi Knoebel currently lives and works in Dusseldörf, Germany.