Blinky Palermo

Blinky Palermo, Untitled, 1970, synthetic paint on canvas on wood and fiberboard, four parts, each 5 7/8 x 5 7/8 x 2". Photo: Jens Ziehe.

THERE ARE VERY FEW ARTISTS for whom my admiration is absolute, and Blinky Palermo is one of them. It is most productive to call him a painter, because even if not everything he made was a painting, those other things can best be understood as originating in painting and extending it.

Michael Fried told us in 1967 that for a modernist painting to be successful it must overcome its objecthood. For me, Palermo’s achievement was, on the contrary, to make paintings that are plainly objects and at the same time successful paintings. More than successful: It is my conviction that Palermos at their best are great paintings.

Clement Greenberg observed in 1940 that certain artists, such as Jean Arp, had moved from painting to bas-relief and then to sculpture because they wanted to work with elements unavailable to “pure painting”—a phrase that implies there is painting other than pure

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