New York

Imi Knoebel

Gladstone Gallery | West 21st St

To many, the black monochrome is the quintessential Modernist pictorial gesture. It is the theoretical, material, and formal culmination of our unrequited desire for truth in painting. If the sepia tones of Analytic Cubism signaled the beginning of the end, the finale manifested itself in Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square, 1915. It has been Imi Knoebel’s practice to concern himself with the fallout created by the notion of the “last painting.” His four “Schlachtbilder” (Battle paintings, all works 1991)—black rectangular paintings constructed from wood and faced with Masonite—are numbered from one to four, as if to distinguish these similar works from one another. In point of fact, however, the numerical titles are descriptive: Battle No. 1 is made on one panel, while Battles No. 2, 3, and 4, are comprised of two, three, and four vertical panels respectively.

These foreboding works play with

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