Yves Klein


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Yves Klein was born April 28, 1928 in Nice. His parents were both artists. His father, Fred Klein, is a figurative painter who exhibited in the early thirties, and his mother, Marie Raymond, geometric abstract painter, is widely recognized from 1945. This environment familiarizes him very early with the artistic community, but Yves Klein first moves to another career.

If he paints spontaneously since his adolescence, it is by subordinating the painting to other activities. First of all to the judo he started in 1947, when this practice was not yet reduced to a sport but was considered as a method of intellectual and moral education dedicated to self-control. During one of his first classes, he meets Armand Fernandez, the future artist Arman. In 1952, he left France to improve in Japan where he became black belt, fourth dan, grade that no French reached at that time. Back to France, the French Judo Federation refusing to allow him to teach Judo, he then opened his own school in 1955, which he decorated with monochromes paintings , but was forced, for financial reasons, to close the following year.

Alongside the judo, Yves Klein discovers from 1947 various mystical philosophies. The monochromes he paints become, for him, objects of worship. Also, when in 1958, Klein reads The Air and the Dreams, the philosopher Gaston Bachelard, created an echo to his own thoughts.

It was from 1955 that Klein presented his work in an artistic setting: he exhibited at the Club des solitaires de Paris some monochrome paintings of different colors, under the title Yves, paintings. There he meets the art critic Pierre Restany with whom he will collaborate all his life long: his career as a painter is launched.

In 1957, he began his “blue period”, a choice of color confirmed by his trip to Assisi in Italy where he discovered the skies of Giotto. He recognizes in him the true precursor of the blue monochrome that he practices: uniform and spiritual. Klein radically implements this blue monochrome that he sees in Giotto, thanks to the particular texture of his painting which is the subject of an original formula, validated in 1960 by the National Institute of Industrial Property: this painting is what he calls IKB (International Klein Blue). As a world-renowned artist, he participated – among others – in the founding of New Realism with Pierre Restany, Jacques Villeglé, Daniel Spoerri and Arman, while continuing his personal research.

But blue monochromes are just one aspect of his work that includes different other techniques. From 1960, Klein uses gold, fire, and sets up works that bring together a trilogy of blue, gold and pink colors. In 1961, he made an ex-voto in the form of a triptych which he dedicated to Saint Rita; he organized the same year an exhibition in Germany, in Krefeld, where he divided the three colors in space; he uses them for the announcement of his marriage with Rotraut Uecker in January 1962 that he transforms into a work of art.

He died of a heart attack in June 1962.

Yves Klein Archives

Yves Klein in front of a Sponge Relief (RE 10) during his exhibition “Yves Klein Monochrome und Feuer” , 1961, Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany
© Photo: Charles Wilp / BPK, Berlin


Major exhibitions

Yves : peintures
Éditions Lacoste, Club des Solitaires, Paris, France
15 october 1955

Yves : Propositions monochromes
Galerie Colette Allendy, Paris, France
21 february 1956 – 7 march 1956

Festival de l’art d’avant-garde
Cité Radieuse de Marseille, Marseille, France
4 august 1956 – 31 august 1956

Yves Klein : Proposte monocrome, epoca blu
Galleria Apollinaire, Milan, Italy
2 january 1957 – 12 january 1957

Micro-Salon d’avril
Galerie Iris Clert, Paris, France
12 april 1957 – 8 may 1957

Yves Klein : Propositions monochromes
Galerie Iris Clert, Paris, France
10 may 1957 – 25 may 1957

Yves Klein : Propositions monochromes
Galerie Colette Allendy, Paris, France
14 may 1957 – 23 may 1957

Yves Propositions monochromes
Galerie Schmela, Düsseldorf, Germany
31 may 1957 – 23 june 1957

Monochrome Propositions of Yves Klein
Gallery One, London, United-Kingdom
24 june 1957 – 13 july 1957

Das rote Bild
7 Abendausstellung, Düsseldorf, Germany
24 april 1958 – 24 april 1958

La spécialisation de la sensibilité à l’état de matière première en sensibilité (a.k.a Le Vide)
Galerie Iris Clert, Paris, France
28 april 1958 – 12 may 1958

Première expérience des “pinceaux vivants”
Appartment of Robert Godet 9, rue Le-Regrattier, Île Saint-Louis, Paris, France
5 june 1958 – 5 june 1958

Vitesse pure et stabilité monochrome par Yves Klein et Tinguely
Galerie Iris Clert, Paris, France
17 november 1958 – 30 november 1958

Vision in motion – motion in vision
Hessenhuis, Antwerp, Belgiun
17 march 1959 – 3 may 1959

Bas-reliefs dans une forêt d’éponges
Galerie Iris Clert, Paris, France
15 june 1959 – 30 june 1959

Anthropométries de l’époque bleue
Galerie Internationale d’art contemporain, Paris, France
9 march 1960

Les Nouveaux Réalistes
Galleria Apollinaire, Milan, Italy
30 april 1960

Festival d’art d’avant-garde
Pavillon américain de la Porte de Versailles, Paris, France
18 november 1960 – 15 december 1960

Yves Klein le Monochrome
Galerie Rive Droite, Paris, France
11 october 1960 – 13 november 1960

Yves Klein Monochrome und Feuer
Haus Lange Museum, Krefeld, Germany
14 january 1961 – 26 february 1961

Yves Klein le monochrome
Galerie Leo Castelli, New York, USA
11 april 1961 – 29 april 1961

Yves Klein le Monochrome
Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
29 may 1961 – 24 june 1961

Yves Klein le monochrome: il nuovo realismo del colore
Galleria Apollinaire, Milan, Italy
20 november 1961 – 30 november 1961


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