German painter, born in Dessau. He studied alongside Blinky Palermo at the Düsseldorf Academy under Joseph Beuys. From the late 1960s he made installations of painted wooden panels, sometimes placed face down. Ghent Room (1980) was originally shown in Ghent but when reconstructed has always been modified to suit the dimensions of the space in which it is shown. The geometric austerity and flat colour of the work recalls early Mondrian. Reviewing an exhibition of his work in 2007, Michael Archer identified Knoebel's ‘spiritual father’ as Malevich (Artforum International, February 2007), but the idealism of the geometric tradition is brought down to earth with a sense of contingency and informality. The apparent contradiction is acknowledged by Knoebel, who has cited the 19th-century French poet Baudelaire's (see modernism) distinction between beauty as eternal and beauty which is a product of circumstance. The first is invisible without the second.