Imi Knoebel, Pure Freude, 2001


As our exhibition with Imi Knoebel’s Pure Freude (Pure Joy) series is coming to an end, we invite you to take a closer look at Pure Freude 08-1, 2001, an individual work of this iconic series as our Work of the Week.

Imi Knoebel, born 1940 in Dessau as Klaus Wolf Knoebel, studied with Joseph Beuys at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf. He often describes himself as a “painter” rather than an „artist”, emphasizing not only the craftsmanship of the artistic process, but also his interest in exploring the possibilities and limitations of painting. Working in a serial fashion, as with Pure Freude, allows him to explore these boundaries by testing variations of one composition.
Pure Freude also marked an important point in Knoebel’s career, as he dedicated his solo presentation at the Kester Gesellschaft, Hannover in 2001/2 to this group of works.
Pure Freude 08-1 is the original design, executed by Imi Knoebel, that was later used for an edition. It was created in 2001 and represents an important step in developing this series. As has been the case since Knoebel’s early works, the Pure Freude series is painted on industrially manufactured media. The artist has an ongoing fascination with sleek carriers of pure color, such as aluminum or, in case of our work, painted and collaged synthetic paper.
The title Pure Freude reminds us of Paul Klee and his theory of the purity of colors, which defines color as what remains when all units of measurement are omitted. Each color appears monochrome on one element of the overall composition, gaining the freedom and intensity that allows it to assert its autonomy against any other color in the picture.
Pure Freude 08-1 marks a seminal moment in this important artist’s career. It highlights both Knoebel’s mastery of color and his contribution to the ongoing development of abstract painting.

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Imi Knoebel
(* 1940 Dessau)

Pure Freude P.F.08-1, 2001
Acrylic on synthetic paper in artist frame
103 x 74 cm
Signed, dated and inscribed verso: E8/1-3 (3 circled)
Label verso: PF 08-1


Imi Knoebel, born 1940 in Dessau as Klaus Wolf Knoebel, studied with Joseph Beuys at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, and is regarded as one of the most consistent artists of post-war abstract art. Knoebel described himself always as a “painter” rather than an „artist”, thus emphasizing not only the craftsmanship of the art process, but also his interest in exploring the possibilities and limits of painting. Starting from Kasimir Malevich’s Black Square of 1915, which he sees as the zero point of modern painting, he takes this as an occasion for a new beginning and, like Malevich, strives to create icons of his time. For Knoebel, both color and line are important means in this respect for exploring the actual idea of the picture.
In recent years, solo exhibitions of Imi Knoebel’s works have been shown at the nearby Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich (2018); Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig (2016); Musée National Fernand Léger, Biot (2016) and the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf (2015).