Irma Blank (b.1934 Celle, Germany) is German by birth but has resided in Italy since the late 1950s, she lives and works in Milan.
Since the late 1960s, Blank's singular production has focused on the recording of time as gesture. In her drawings and paintings time is inscribed as a material record of life through the material traces of the artist's labour. Located between drawing and writing, the work evokes the space of the book but encompasses paintings on canvas and paper, screenprints and drawings in pastel, pencil and ink.
Blank shares some formal and conceptual approaches to language with other artists who emerged in the 1960s, such as Robert Barry and Lawrence Weiner. Her ritualistic indexing of time has drawn comparisons with Hanne Darboven and On Kawara. Her work is, however, distinguished from her contemporaries by an almost performative approach to painting and drawing. Rather than represent or document, Blank uses repetition to embody a notion of time as lived by the artist.
At a time of ever-accelerating consumption Blank offers a rare moment of slowness. Through her careful observation of time passing she unites life and art as time spent, asking important questions about the role of the artist and what it means to be alive.
Significant museum solo exhibitions have included: Breath Paintings, Mostyn, Llandudno (2014), Schrift und Linie ∕ Scrittura e Disegno, Museion, Bolzano, Italy (2017) and Culturgest, Lisbon; MAMCO, Geneva and CCA, Tel Aviv (2019), travelling to CAPC, Bordeaux, France; Bauhaus Foundation Tel Aviv, Israel; ICA, Milano, Italy; Museo Villa Dei Cedri, Bellinzona, Switzerland; Bombas Gens Centre d’art, Valencia, Spain (2020-2021). The artist is internationally recognised and has participated in group shows including Type, Please, Galerie Raum Mit Licht, Vienna, Austria; Colori, Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2017); Klappe eins, Affe tot, Kunstsaele Berlin and ...und Eine Welt Noch, Kunsthaus Hamburg, Germany (2016); Così Accade, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy (2014); Modernités Plurielles de 1905 à 1970, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2013); La Magnifica Ossessione, Works from the Permanent Collection, MART, Rovereto (2013); Elles@centrepompidou, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2010). Exhibitions at Alison Jacques Gallery include the solo shows Life Time (2017), Irma Blank: To be (2014) and the group show Matter & Memory (2014).
Blank also presented at GAM, Bologna (1977); Documenta 6, Kassel (1977); the Venice Biennale (1978, 2001 and 2017); Centre Pompidou, Paris (1985, 2009, 2010 and 2013); Palazzo Reale, Milan, Italy (2010), and Biennale del Disegno di Rimini, Museo della Città, Rimini, Italy (2014).