Blinky Palermo: To the People of New York City

September 15, 2018–February 16, 2019, Dia:Chelsea


Opening at Dia:Chelsea on September 15, 2018, Blinky Palermo’s To the People of New York City returns to New York City after thirty years. The artist’s magnum opus was last shown in the city at Dia Center for the Arts, 548 West 22nd Street, in 1987. To the People of New York City is a multipartite group of paintings whose palette is derived from the colors of the German flag and titled, posthumously, from a dedication that Palermo inscribed on the backs of the metal panels.

The work is part of the artist’s Metal Pictures series (or Metallbilder, in German), which he started while in New York City from 1973 to 1976. During this time, Palermo began to compose serialized groups of paintings on metal, using color and formal patterns to focus on a specific experience of abstract progression.

Completed upon his return to Düsseldorf in late 1976, To the People of New York City was discovered in Palermo’s studio after his death in February 1977. Consisting of fifteen parts—composed from forty painted aluminum panels arranged in various combinations of black, cadmium red, and cadmium yellow—the demarcated bands of color in To the People of New York City read as striking, didactic signs that may reference the early twentieth-century abstract painting of Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian. To the People of New York City, however, is distinguished by its prescribed hanging and its rhythmically changing formats, which also bring to mind the jazz performances that Palermo sought out during his time in New York. 

In addition to the paintings, the exhibition includes Palermo’s preparatory studies—a selection of watercolors and felt pen sketches on parchment paper—on which he recorded ideas about the singular arrangement of the painted panels. The studies provide insight into the evolution of this comprehensive cycle of painting.

Blinky Palermo: To the People of New York City is made possible by significant support from Susan and Larry Marx. Generous support is provided by Frances Bowes, Nathalie and Charles de Gunzburg, and Marissa Sackler.




Blinky Palermo

Blinky Palermo was born in Leipzig, Germany, in 1943. He died in the Maldives in 1977.

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Blinky Palermo: To the People of New York City

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