Imi Knoebel: Ich Nicht

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Imi Knoebel, Untitled, 1978

Imi Knoebel, Untitled, 1978. Silhouette, 100 x 70 cm. © Imi Knoebel

Imi Knoebel: Ich Nicht

May 23–June 26, 2009

Ich Nicht, part one of the two-part exhibition the Deutsche Guggenheim dedicates to artist Imi Knoebel, focuses on the wall and spatial work he made between 2005 and 2008. The title is Knoebel’s cryptic answer to a question Barnett Newman posed in the 1960s with his painting series Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue. Newman’s monochromatic color fields provoked heated reactions at the time. But does this fear still exist? Paintings that have departed from objects and nature are still frequently considered far more dubious than figurative art. Yet Knoebel challenges the viewer to engage in color, surface, and form without preconception.

Together with the Neue Nationalgalerie, which is concurrently showing the Knoebel exhibition Zu Hilfe, zu Hilfe . . ., the Deutsche Guggenheim celebrates this exceptional artist’s ability to transform the fundamentals of his art into something new time and again. Likewise, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York was built to house Guggenheim’s collection of largely nonobjective art. This year marks the 50th anniversary of this modernist masterwork, and in celebration, the Guggenheim is presenting the first major showing of the architect’s work in the museum, one of his most groundbreaking achievements. As these encounters with Knoebel and Wright demonstrate, modernism can still be experienced today as an intellectual, sensuous, and controversial adventure.

The exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin is being mounted in close collaboration with the artist and in cooperation with the Neue Nationalgalerie, where Imi’s Knoebel installation Zu Hilfe, zu Hilfe… is opening at the same time.