- Date of Birth: December 31, 1940
- Place of birth: Dessau, Saxony-Anhalt
- Nationality: German
- Studied at: Staatliche Kunstakademie Dusseldorf
- Teacher: Joseph Beuys
- Stylistic direction: minimalism
Imi Knoebel was born on December 31, as Klaus Wolf Knoebel in Dessau. He spent his early years in the town Grumbach near Dresden. In 1950 his family moved to Mainz, where Knoebel spent his youth.
In the age of 22, Knoebel began his study at Werkkunstschule in Darmstadt. There he met his good friend Rainer Giese. The close friendship with Giese yielded that they gave themselves the stage name „Imi“. Imi was a farewell between the two artists. Later it was referred as a short form for „Ich mit Ihm“. In 1964 Knoebel und Giese finished their studies together in Darmstadt and both artists moved to Dusseldorf, where they began to study at Staatliche Kunstakademie Dusseldorf. They where known as the artist duo „Imi + Imi“. At first they where both in the applied art class of Walter Breker, however the two realized that they wanted to change to the class of Joseph Beuys. Especially Beuys was in the time of carination, a role model for Imi+Imi. By means of rebellious and provocative actions Beuys was a symbol and expression of a social upheaval. Knoebel and Giese were looking for individual development opportunities and found this in the class of Beuys. They could identify themselves with Joseph Beuys way of teaching and his art and were immediately accepted in his class. In room 20, most of Beuys students were accommodated. Knoebel and Giese were allowed to work in the adjacent room 19 with artists such as Jörg Immendorff and Blinky Palermo (Peter Heisekamp). With the separate room, the artists could develop their art and confidence freely without being criticized by Beuys. Blinky Palermo became a good friend of Giese and Knoebel and together they founded a minimal art movement.
Imi Knoebel met his future wife Carmen Drawe in the Bar Ratinger Hof. She was one of the owners. They were a couple and were married on May 28, 1974. Shortly after, the first daughter Olga Lina was born. In the same year Imi Giese committed suicide in Dusseldorf. This was a huge shock for Imi Knoebel. In many works Knoebel dealt with the death of his best friend. In 1977 the second daughter Stella Liza was born.
Today, Knoebel lives and works in Dusseldorf. Because of the high appreciation of his work, he was awarded in 2006 with honorary doctor’s degree from the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena.
Imi Knoebel, Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Günther Uecker and other artists campaigned in 1982 against the martial law in Poland for the Polish Solidarność. Various works of the artists were auctioned for Solidarność. In 1988 Knoebel painted the artwork Kinderstern. It is still the symbol of children´s rights and finances projects for children in need. The Kinderstern is presented as a „Soziale Plastik“ and shows the changing concept of Joseph Beuys’ work, through which art should also appear as a social change.
Motives und themes
In the period between 1966 and 1968 Knoebel produced the so-called Linienbilder. 44 works were created in black and white. By graphic means the paintings were attributed to the physical medium, so that minimalistic works could be created. In the mid 1960s the art as such was questioned. This questioning of the art was the stimulus for Knoebel, which he used in his large size, color and proportion works.
In his work, Imi Knoebel dealt also with the image concept. He examined especially internal image structures of classical paintings while focusing primarily on the problem of immateriality. Among others he was influenced in his paintings by constructivist artists such as Kasimir Malewitsch (Das Schwarze Quadrat).
During his studies, hardboards were his preferred working material. Later on he made scale sculptures made of superimposed aluminium plates. Through geometric shapes and color-intensive work, Knoebels work has similarities to Piet Mondrian. He arranged the colorful plates on uneven and irregular structures.
In 1968 Imi Knoebel worked on the large-scale work Raum 19. This work was made at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf and was named after the former classroom. It showed the confrontation between painting and room.
In the early 1980s, Imi Knoebel expanded his repertoire with stones, corrugated metal, old windows, pipes and many other materials.
After the death of his good friend Imi Giese, Knoebel presented his work Eigentum Himmelreich. Through free shapes, lines and cubes Knoebel began to deal with the suicide of his friend.
For Imi Knoebel each image and each sculpture was part of the whole picture. In 2005 he renewed his old work Raum 19 and expanded it. This is just one of many works that Knoebel continued again and supplemented with new color-intensive forms.
Knoebel was part of group exhibitions at documenta 5, 6, 7, and 8 and he had several solo exhibitions like in Bonn (1983) and Hamburg (1992).
In 2008 Imi Knoebel was commissioned for the cathedral of Reims to create six new stained glass windows. Three years later, the project was completed. For the stained glass windows, Knoebel took his inspiration from his own works, the so-called Messerschnitte. Since the completion the windows glow in the colors blue, red, yellow and white and are composed of abstract areas of glass.
Imi Knoebels work has been exhibited several times in cooperation with the Deutsche Bank and the Solomon E. Guggenheim Foundation, the so-called German Guggenheim. In 2009 Knoebels oeuvre was shown in an exhibition. Divided into two parts, more recent works were presented under the title ICH NICHT. Knoebel responded with the title to Barnett Newman’s question Who´s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue. Knoebel dealt here intensively with the primary colors. The second part has been known under the title ENDUROS. Here Knoebel showed older works between the years 1968 and 2005. In this exhibition you were able to see Knoebels complete oeuvre.
- Baden-Baden – Sammlung Frieder Burda
- Berlin – Neuer Berliner Kunstverein
- Bonn – Kunstmuseum Bonn
- Dusseldorf – Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen
- Essen – Museum Folkwang
- Frankfurt a. M. – Museum für Moderne Kunst
- Hamburg – Deichtorhallen
- Leipzig – Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst
- Vaduz – Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein
- 21.11.15 – 23.01.16 Imi Knoebel – Galerie Bärbel Grässlin, Frankfurt a.M.
- 2015 Imi Knoebel - White Cube, London
- 2011 Rosenkranz Kubus - Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig
- 2010 Der Deutsche - Giacomo Guidi Arte Contemporanea, Rome
- 2009 Zu Hilfe, zu Hilfe - Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin
- 2009 Imi Knoebel - Mary Boone Gallery, New York
- 2006 Primary Structures - Henry Moore Institute, Leeds
- 2004 gegenwärtig - Kunsthalle, Hamburg
- 2002 Linienbilder 1966-1968 - Kunstverein, Braunschweig
- 2002 Pure Freude. Neue Bilder - Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover
- 1997 Galerie Helga de Alvear, Madrid
- 1997 Tag und Nacht & Bunt - Kunstmuseum, Luzern
- 1997 Retrospektive - Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, Valencia
- 1996 Deutsche Bank, travelling exhibition
- 1996 Retrospektive - Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
- 1995 Works on Paper - Goethe Institut Gallery, London
- 1993 Portraits - Kanransha Gallery, Tokyo
- 1992 Menningebilder - Deichtorhallen, Hamburg
- 1992 Rot-Weiß - Kunsthaus Lempertz, Brussels
- 1991 Grace Kelly - Galerie Achim Kubinski, Cologne
- 1991 Acht Portraits - Galerie Fahnemann, Berlin
- 1990 Betoni - Primo Piano, Rome
- 1989 Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht
- 1989 daß die Geschichte zusammenbleibt - Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York
- 1988 Bilder - Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Cologne
- 1987 Dia:Chelsea - Dia Art Foundation, New York
- 1986 Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden
- 1985 Imi Knoebel - Galerie Wilma Lock, St. Gallen
- 1985 Van Krimpen tekeningen, Amsterdam
- 1985 Habe und Ehre - Galerie nächst St. Stephan, Vienna
- 1984 Mediation - Kanransha Gallery, Tokyo
- 1984 Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach
- 1983 Radio Beirut - Dia Art Foundation, Cologne
- 1983 Imi Knoebel - Städtisches Kunstmuseum, Bonn
- 1982 Stedelijk Van Abbe-Museum, Eindhoven
- 1982 Radio Beirut - Galerie Six Friedrich, Munich
- 1981 Mennigebilder - Dia Art Foundation, Cologne
- 1980 Drachenzeichnungen - Galerie Heike Curtze, Dusseldorf
- 1979 Rot Gelb Blau, 54 Messerschnitte - Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich
- 1977 24 Farben/Für Blinky - Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Cologne
- 1975 Städtische Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf
- 1974 Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Cologne
- 1972 Projektionen 4/1-11 5/1-11 - Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
- 1972 Projektion X - Video-Galerie Gerry Schum, Dusseldorf
- 1971 Drachen - Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich
- 1970 Projekte und Projektionen - art intermedia, Cologne
- 1969 Art & Project - Galerie René Block, Berlin
- 1968 IMI + IMI - Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen
- 2014 Cologne Fine Art, Cologne
- 2010 Der Westen leuchtet - Kunstmuseum Bonn
- 2007 Mehr als das Auge fassen kann - Travelling exhibition of the Deutsche Bank collection in South America
- 2005 EXIT. Ausstieg aus dem Bild - ZKM, Karlsruhe
- 2000 Illuminations - Museet for Samtidkunst, Oslo
- 1997 PRO LIDICE - Museum für Bildende Kunst, Prague
- 1994 Das Jahrhundert des Multiples - Deichtorhallen, Hamburg
- 1991 Metropolis - Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin
- 1988 Zeitlos - Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
- 1987 Beuys. Knoebel. Palermo - Dia Art Foundation, New York
- 1987 documenta 8, Kassel
- 1985 1945-1985 Kunst in der BRD - Nationalgalerie, Berlin
- Beuys zu Ehren - Städtische Galerie im Lehnbachhaus, Munich
- 1984 von hier aus - Messe, Dusseldorf
- 1983 Borofsky, Chamberlain, Dahn, Knoebel - Städtische Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf
- 1982 documenta 7, Kassel
- 1981 Art Allemagne Aujourd’hui - Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris
- 1980 Kunst in Europa nach ’68 - Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Gent
- 1979 Sammlung Ludwig, Vienna
- 1977 documenta 6, Kassel
- 1974 Projekt 74 - Kunsthalle Cologne
- 1973 Prospekt 73 - Städtische Kunsthalle Dusseldorf
- 1972 documenta 5, Kassel
- 1971 Biennale de Jeunes, Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris
- 1969 Düsseldorfer Szene - Kunstmuseum, Luzern
- 1969 Blockade ’69 - Galerie René Block, Berlin
- 2012 Preis der Kythera-Kulturstiftung
- Imi Knoebel. Werke von 1966-2006, exhibition catalogue, Wilhelm-Hack-Museum Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Bielefeld 2007.
- Imi Knoebel. Jena Bilder, exhibition catalogue, Friedrich Schiller Universität, Jena 2006.
- Imi Knoebel. Das Unsystematische als Methode, Lena Maculan in: Parnass, 3, 2005, p. 130-132.
- Imi Knoebel. 9 von 24 Farben – für Blinky, exhibition catalogue, Kunsthalle Weimar Harry Graf Kessler, Weimar 2005.
- Imi Knoebel. Pure Freude, exhibition catalogue, Kestner-Gesellschaft Hannover, Hanover 2002.
- Imi Knoebel. Imi gegen groben Schmutz, exhibition catalogue, Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig 2002.
- Imi Knoebel, exhibition catalogue, Galerie Bärbel Grässlin Frankfurt a.M., Frankfurt a.M. 2001.
- Imi Knoebel. Rot-Weiß, exhibition catalogue, Deutsche Bank, Luxemburg 1996.