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Irma Blank

Celle, Germany, 1934


“For the small works on paper in the ongoing series Avant-testo, I work with ballpoint pens. …It is a rhythm. It’s a beautiful work to do. You lose yourself. You give yourself to it. When you start, you know nothing. I never know how a work will end. It grows; it defines itself in my hands.” — Irma Blank.


Irma Blank (b.1934, Germany) has been conducting research on language for almost half a century, testing linguistic conventions and constantly innovating ways of working with painting, drawing and book publishing.

She has inherited the need to connect art and life from the avant-gardes, and especially the neo-avant-gardes of the mid-20th century. Blank’s work is strongly influenced by the conflation of writing and image as practiced in the concrete poetry of the 70s. She transposed the typology of different text blocks found in newspapers, novels, and poetry books, for instance, in pursuit of her work’s central aim: to strip words of their content.

Her art resides in the permanent collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Getty Center, Los Angeles; Weserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen; MUSEION, Bolzano; Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto (MART), Rovereto; Galleria Civica d´Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAM), Turin among others.

Irma Blank has shown at GAM, Bologna (1977), Bonner Kunstverein and Stadtische Galerie, Regensburg (1981), Musée des Beaux Arts, Rouen (1982), Centre Pompidou, Paris (1985, 2009, 2010 and 2013), Quadriennale, Rome (1986, 2005), Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf (1997), Museion, Bolzano (2002, 2009), Museo della Permanente, Milan (2002), Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome (2007),Vienna (2014), MAMBO, Bologna (2015), Kunsthaus, Hamburg (2016).

In late 2019, Blank’s art will be the subject of a solo traveling exhibition curated by Johana Carrier and Joana P.R.Neves, to go on view at Culturgest – Foundation Caixa Geral de Depósitos in Lisbon, Musée de Art Moderne et Contemporain in Geneva, and the Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv.

Art photo courtesy of MOSTYN ART Gallery
Profile photo by Irma Blank, courtesy of Lucie Fontaine