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View of “Blinky Palermo: Retrospective 1964–77,” 2011, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. From left: Untitled, ca. 1967; Untitled, 1969-70; Untitled, 1971, Untitled, 1968–69; Blau/Grün (Blue/Green), 1968. Photo: Lee Stalsworth.

Blinky Palermo and “If you lived here, you’d be home by now

View of “Blinky Palermo: Retrospective 1964–77,” 2011, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. From left: Untitled, ca. 1967; Untitled, 1969-70; Untitled, 1971, Untitled, 1968–69; Blau/Grün (Blue/Green), 1968. Photo: Lee Stalsworth.

BLINKY PALERMO’S LOVE for America has long gone unrequited. The German painter’s art was inaccessible for decades on this side of the Atlantic, save for small commercial-gallery surveys and the Dia Art Foundation’s holdings of certain significant works. This despite Palermo’s embrace of American culture, from Thelonious Monk to Barnett Newman, and his resulting move to New York in 1973; despite his legendary status among painters who have come of age in the US since then, from David Reed to Julian Schnabel to Wade Guyton; and, most shockingly, despite Palermo’s momentous gifts to these American artists. His most important bequest may have been his playful mobilization of vernacular forms, materials, and media—found geometric shapes with erratic edges, ready-made fabrics in period palettes, sewing, and wall painting—drawn from design, architecture, and commercial culture.

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