Between an old Big Black Book and a past interview with artist Jeremy Brown, I was very intrigued to do some research into the artist Yves Klein. He was a pioneer in the development of Performance art, and is revered as the forerunner of Minimal art, Pop art and Godfather of the phenomenon known as ‘Contemporary Art’. Klein – is perhaps the singularly most inspiring figure in the art world, at least where direct influence on other artists is concerned. Klein’s DNA can be found in an astounding number of works produced by the avant-garde since his time. In Klein’s short life (he only lived to the age of 34), he singlehandedly managed to redefine the foundation on which the entire generation of the 1960s avant-garde stood, including that of Andy Warhol, Carl André, Robert Smithson and so forth.
In my humble opinion however, Klein’s largest and most important gift to the world was the creation of International Klein Blue (IKB). While searching for colors which best represented the concepts he wished to convey as an artist IKB was developed. Klein wanted his painting to have the same intensity as dry pigments. He invented the paint by suspending pure, dry pigment in crystal-clear synthetic resin and compatible solvents (ether and petroleum). Unlike traditional binders, the new colorless carrier did not dull the individual particles of pigment, but left them with their original brightness and intensity.
Although Klein had worked with blue extensively in his earlier career, it was not until 1958 that he used it as the central component of a piece (the color effectively becoming the art). Klein embarked on a series of monochromatic works using IKB as the central theme. These included performance arts where Klein painted models’ naked bodies and had them walk, roll and sprawl upon blank canvases as well as more conventional single-color canvases.
Yves Klein was the most influential, prominent, and controversial French artist to emerge in the 1950s and remembered dearly for IKB. The color itself has influenced the worlds of art, fashion and décor. Klein died at age 34, but the variety of work he produced in his brief life and his many manifestos made him one of the groundbreaking conceptual artists of the 20th century and I don’t know about you but I don’t know many people that have created a color.
The imagination is the vehicle of sensibility. Transported by the imagination, we attain life, life itself, which is absolute art.” – Yves Klein