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Yves Klein

With no formal artistic training, Yves Klein (1928 - 1962) became one of the pioneers of performance, minimal and pop art. In the mid-1950s Klein first exhibited his monochrome paintings in which a canvas was uniformly covered in a single color. His patented shade of blue became Klein's signature color that remains highly acclaimed internaitonally.

Yves Klein (1928–1962) was born in Nice, France, to an artistic family. Although Klein grew up in a creative household, he received no formal artistic training. His major artistic breakthrough came in 1947 while lying on the beach with two friends; they divided the universe between themselves. He possessed the ethereal space surrounding the planet and decided that the blue sky would be his first artwork. In the mid-1950s he then began to exhibit his monochrome paintings in which a canvas was uniformly covered in a single colour. His short career was characterised by many radical gestures. Yves Klein´s “Leap Into the Void” presents the artist soaring upwards from the parapet of a building like a Left Bank Superman. In 1958, he attracted attention with an “Exhibition of emptiness”, an empty gallery space in Paris painted white, titled The Void.

“At first there is nothing, then there is a profound nothingness, after that a blue profundity.” —Yves Klein

In his search for colours, he developed – together with chemists and the French pharmaceutical company, Rhône Poulenc – the patented colour ‘International Yves Klein Blue’ (IKB). Between his oeuvre, Yves Klein´s table, a caffee table filled with IKB pigments, is one of the most iconic contemporary artworks. Moreover, Yves Klein´s art influenced minimal, conceptual and performance art by taking the painting out of the frame and blurring the boundaries between painting and sculpture. Yves Klein´s Atropometries are impressions of naked female models smothered in paint, kind of “living brushes”. Using this strategy allowed him to depersonalise the art object. Klein was a pioneer in the development of Performance art, and he is seen as an inspiration to and as a forerunner of Minimal art, as well as Pop art.

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