new-york

Imi Knoebel

Barbara Gladstone Gallery

Imi Knoebel’s work is a purposive reinvestigation of geometry as a living tradition for abstraction today, unlike the melancholic and parodic simulations of, say, Peter Halley and Sherrie Levine. Their lineage is Warholian (that is, they are serious about unseriousness), whereas Knoebel’s is Beuysian (very serious indeed). Knoebel was, in fact, one of Beuys’ most illustrious students. This distinction already tips us off that “Germanness” is a large part of Knoebel’s import. As a student of Beuys, Knoebel continues his practice of “social sculpture,” but within an even more dauntingly hermetic realm. To American eyes at least, this can seem rather obscure, even inscrutable.

Knoebel’s art oscillates between a rather dry critique of the media of painting and sculpture and an often overblown mystico-religiosity. (Rosalind Krauss observes in her essay, “Grids,” 1979, that the geometric art of

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