Yves Klein, the artist who owned ultramarine
In the mid-1950s, Yves Klein (1928–1962) declared that “a new world calls for a new man.” With his idiosyncratic style and huge charisma, this bold artist would go on to pursue a brief but bountiful career, producing more than 1,000 paintings over seven years in an oeuvre now considered a mainstay of the postwar modernism.
Klein made his name above all with his large monochrome canvases in his own patented hue of blue. International Klein Blue (IKB), composed of pure pigment and binding medium, is at once rich and luminous, evocative and decorative, and was conceived by Klein as a means of evoking the immateriality and infinitude of the world.
The works of this “Blue Revolution” seem to draw us into another dimension, as if hypnotized by a perfect summer sky. A pioneer of daring painting techniques, Klein was also renowned for his deployment of “living paintbrushes,” in which naked women, daubed in International Klein Blue, would make imprints of their bodies on large sheets of paper.
Often, these Anthropométries were staged as elaborate performances, complete with blue cocktails or Klein’s own Monotone Symphony. This Basic Art introduction presents key Klein works to introduce an artist who was at once a showman, inventor, and pioneer of performance art.
With page after page of the ever-alluring International Klein Blue, it is both an essential guide to a modern art master and a meditation on the unique effects of a single color.
About the Author
Hannah Weitemeier, born in 1942, is a German art historian and writer. In the 1980s she worked as a curator in West Berlin. Her special interest is the Düsseldorf-based group of artists, ZERO, the art of whose members was influenced by the monochrome works of Yves Klein, Piero Manzoni, and Lucio Fontana.