Autodidact artist Yves Klein is particularly well known for his monochrome works executed in an intense blue colour. In 1960 Klein even patented his characteristic blue colour: International Klein Blue (IKB).
Klein believed that by letting colour remain pure and absolute, he could purge the art of painting, setting it free from its materiality. The immaterial – infinity, the indefinable, the absolute, empty space – was to be presented by means of a single, rich colour. In addition to painting with brushes Klein also used rollers and sprays, allowing the surface to remain purer and leaving no imprint of the artist’s hand behind on the work.
Klein began painting his first monochrome works on cardboard and paper in various colours in 1946. In 1957 Klein announced the beginning of his Blaue Epoche with an exhibition at Galleria Apollinarie in Milan. Eleven monochrome works were offered at different prices even though the works were all identical in size and produced using the same method. Klein’s blue epoch had begun. It ended in 1960 when he created works in a trilogy of colours: Blue, pink and gold. In addition to his richly saturated canvases Klein also worked with reliefs and sculptures made out of sponges, so-called anthropometric works where female models were ‘dipped’ in paint and left imprints of their bodies on canvases and paper, or works created by the marks left by water or fire.
In 1961 the ZERO group arranged the largest retrospective Klein exhibition staged during the artist’s lifetime: Yves Klein: Monochrome und Feuer. The next year, in June of 1962, Yves Klein died of a heart attack.
The artist is represented in:
Chapter 2 – Painting with Time and Space: from ZERO to the ‘60s Avant-garde