Born: 1943; Leipzig, Germany
Died: 1977; Malé, Maldives
Field: painting, installation
Art Movement: Abstract Expressionism
Blinky Palermo was a German abstract painter.
Palermo was born Peter Schwarze in Leipzig, Germany, in 1943, and adopted as an infant, with his twin brother, Michael, by foster parents named Heisterkamp, became Peter Heisterkamp, and moved to Münster in 1952. He was given his outlandish name in 1964, during his studies with Bruno Goller and Joseph Beuys at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf between 1962 and 1967. The name refers to Frank "Blinky" Palermo, an American Mafioso and boxing promoter who was famous at the time for "owning" Sonny Liston. According to legend, it was given to Schwarze at the suggestion of Beuys when the teacher noticed the physical resemblance between Schwarze and the gangster.
In 1969, Palermo moved to Mönchengladbach and set up a studio he would share with Imi Knoebel and Ulrich Rückriem. After a stay in New York in the early 1970s, he moved into Gerhard Richter's former Düsseldorf studio.
Blinky Palermo died in Malé, aged 33, while on vacation on Kurumba island, Maldives in 1977 (of causes that often are referred to as "mysterious" but widely acknowledged as related to Palermo's drug use). His brother Michael Heisterkamp is the sole heir and owner of the copyright of Palermo.