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Figur H113

Figur H113
signed and dated 'imi 87' (on the reverse)
acrylic and graphite on six joined panels
98 3/8 x 66 ¾ x 2 5/8in. (250 x 169.6 x 6.7cm.)
Executed in 1987
Galerie Hock, Krefeld.
Private Collection, Germany.
Galerie Christian Löhrl, Dusseldorf.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2016.
Krefeld, Galerie Hock, Imi Knoebel, 1987.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

Stretching 2.5 metres in height, Imi Knoebel’s Figur H113 (1987) offers an elegant meditation on geometric interplay. The tall, rectangular work is composed of multiple interlocking panels of white canvas, with inset squares variously set in grid-like rectitude or floating at jaunty angles; their edges are echoed by further lines and boxes drawn on the surface in graphite. At the lower left, Knoebel has painted a single, tilted black square, perhaps in allusion to Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square (1915), which he has referred to as a defining discovery of his early career. Knoebel’s negation of figural imagery builds on Malevich’s legacy, as well as that of Piet Mondrian. Remembering his first artistic attempts as ‘tortuous’, Knoebel was roused by the graphic and reductive visual vocabularies of these artists. Reflecting on his early views, he noted that he thought ‘everything has been done already… Yves Klein has painted his canvas blue, Lucio Fontana has cut slashes into his. What’s left? If you want to do something, to stay alive, you have to think of something at least as radical’ (I. Knoebel interviewed by K. Connolly, The Guardian, 15 July 2015).

Born in Dessau, Germany, Knoebel attended the Werkkunstschule Darmstadt in 1962, where he studied under professors Johannes Itten and László Moholy-Nagy. There he became friends with Rainer Griese, a fellow student equally captivated by Malevich’s art. The pair became known as Imi & Imi, a shortened version of ‘Ich mit Ihm’ or ‘I with him’, and they persuaded Joseph Beuys to accept them at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. It was there in 1968 that Knoebel created Raum 19 (Room 19), which took its title from the room in which he worked. This modular wooden installation, which can expand, contract and be reconfigured according to its location, foregrounded the layering of elements that would remain central to both his sculptures and his paintings. This sense of overlap can be seen in Figur H113, whose nestled panels and pencilled lines lend the picture plane a dynamic dimensionality. As Knoebel said when asked about his paintings, ‘I look at it and can only take in the beauty, and I don’t want to see it in relation to anything else. Only what I see, simply because it has its own validity’ (I. Knoebel, quoted in J. Stüttgen, ‘“I wouldn’t Say Anything Voluntary Anyway!” Interview with Imi Knoebel’, Imi Knoebel: Works 1966- 2014, exh. cat. Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg 2014, p. 24).

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