Yves Klein: The Creation of International Klein Blue

Yves Klein: A Criação de International Klein Blue

Yves Klein had first discovered the visual power of monochromatic a few years earlier, when he realized that he could carry the heady effect of color (which enthralled Vincent van Gogh and the fauves) to a new extreme, avoiding putting more than one color on the surface of the image. As the artist explained: “When there are two colors in a painting, there is a struggle; the spectator can extract a refined pleasure from the permanent spectacle of this struggle between two colors in the psychological and emotional realm and perhaps extract a refined pleasure, but it is no less morbid from a purely philosophical and human point of view” (Y). . Klein, in K. Ottmann (ed.), Overcoming the Problematic of Art: The Writings of Yves Klein, Putnam 2007, p. 140).

Yves Klein | P55.ART

Klein's interest in the physical and psychological properties of the color blue began when he was just nineteen and he and friends Armand Fernandez (later known as Arman) and Claude Pascal were lying on a beach in southern France looking up at the sky. With youthful bravery, they decided to divide the universe between themselves, just as the Greek gods Zeus, Poseidon and Hades had done. “Arman... took command of the animal kingdom... Claude gathered for himself the safety of all plants. And Yves... defined his kingdom, the mineral, as the blue void of the distant sky” (T. McEvilley, “Yves Klein: Conquistador of the Void”, in Yves Klein, 1928-1962, ex. cat., Institute for the Arts, Rice University, Houston, 1982, p. 28).
Klein's monochromes were the artist's purest response to what he believed to be a mystical place that existed beyond conventional notions of time and space – what Klein called the “zone of immateriality”. The eerie, textural expanse of radiant pure color provides a highly physical manifestation of the inherent dialogue Klein hoped to induce between the viewer's sensibility and the vast monochromatic expanse of intense but immaterial color that emanates from the surface of the work. “Painting is just the witness,” he wrote, “the sensitive plate that saw what happened. Color, in the chemical form in which all painters use it, is the most suitable medium for the event. That is why I say: “My paintings represent poetic events, or rather, they are immobile, silent, op. cit., pg. 29).

Yves Klein | Magazine | P55.ART

Klein's ultimate goal was to create an immersive experience for the viewer. “I try to place the spectator in front of the fact that color is an individual”, said Klein, “a character, a personality. I request a receptivity from the observer placed in front of my works. This allows you to consider everything that monochromatic painting actually involves. That way it can be impregnated with color and the color is impregnated in it. So, perhaps, he can enter a world of color” (Y. Klein cited in S. Stich, Yves Klein, ex. cat., Hayward Gallery, London, 1994 p. 66).
Yves Klein wanted hismonochromatic induce a sense of pure and primal freedom for the spectator. The feelings provoked by the experience of the intensity of Klein's blue are not intended, therefore, to be a substitute for a religious or human experience, but intend to free us from our corporeal existence and leave a space for the spectator to incorporate the painting, as if we were involved by the ocean or a vast expanse of blue sky.
Klein declared the blue sky his first work of art and from then on he continued to find radical new ways to represent the infinite and the immaterial in his works. One of the strategies was monochromatic abstraction – the use of one color over an entire canvas. Klein saw monochromatic painting as an “open window to freedom, as the possibility of being immersed in the immeasurable existence of color”. Although he used a variety of colors, the most iconic works often feature International Klein Blue, a pure ultramarine shade that Klein claimed to have invented and trademarked. Yves Klein used materials such as water, fire and air to build his works and staged a “leap into the void” for a self-published newspaper.

Yves Klein Blue | Magazine P55.ART

Blue Monochrome is one of a dizzying array of innovations Klein has used to cultivate a new aesthetic awareness and free color from the confines of form. International Klein Blue is formed from a chemical: pure color powder in a lightweight, virtually invisible resin solution that gives the individual grains unprecedented autonomy, rather than oil-bound pigment, which had a dulling effect that the artist feared. When applied evenly with a roller, the deep shade suggests potentially endless visual expansion. However, the finely textured matte surface also exerts a powerful attraction in its own right.
Yves Klein realized that art was evolving into the immaterial, progressively abandoning physical objects in favor of intangible effects and feats of ideation. Monochromatic abstraction – the use of one color over an entire canvas – has been a strategy adopted by many painters who wish to challenge expectations of what an image can and should represent. Klein adopted this tone as a means of evoking the immateriality and infinity of his own utopian vision of the world, comparing monochromatic painting to an "open window on freedom".

Yves Klein Blue | Magazine | P55.ART

Older post Newer post