Yves Klein 

“In short, each color nuance is clearly a presence, a living being, an active force that is born and that dies after living a kind of drama in the life of colors."

Yves Klein

A leading figure of the postwar avant-garde, Yves Klein (1928–1962) sought radical ways to represent the immaterial and the infinite. In paintings, sculptures, actions, and events, he conveyed a rigorous, provocative exploration of nature and its forces. In the late 1950s he associated with Düsseldorf’s Group Zero, and in 1960 he became a founding member of the Nouveaux Réalistes.

Klein was born to artist parents in Nice, France. As early as 1947, he declared the blue of the sky to be his first artwork. He made great use of the color throughout his career, considering it “the invisible becoming visible.” In his 20s, Klein traveled to Japan and studied Rosicrucianism and judo. Settling in Paris in 1955, he first exhibited monochrome paintings at the Club des Solitaires. In 1958, he emptied the Galerie Iris Clert and presented the space itself as a work, Le Vide (The Void). He also initiated his Anthropométries series, wherein he choreographed “living brushes”—nude women with blue paint applied to their bodies who pressed themselves on canvas and paper. Beginning in 1959, he sold Immaterial Zones of Pictorial Sensibility in exchange for a specified amount of gold, half of which he threw into the Seine. That year, he patented International Klein Blue (IKB)—an ultramarine paint he developed with a chemical retailer. He soon after created his photomontage Leap into the Void (1960), in which the artist appears to fly from a second story window in Paris. In 1961, he was given his first retrospective, at the Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, West Germany, as well as solo exhibitions at Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, and Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles.

In the seven years before his death from a heart attack in 1962, Klein produced over a thousand works and many prescient writings. Among the numerous retrospectives dedicated to his work are those organized by Tate Modern, London (1974); Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art (1982); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (1994); Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Germany (2004); Guggenheim Bilbao (2005); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2006–07); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (2010); Fundación Proa, Buenos Aires (2017).


Selected Artworks

    • Yves Klein
    • Peinture de Feu sans titre (F 78), 1961
    • Charred cardboard on panel
    • 30⁵⁄₁₆ × 20⅞ inches (77 × 53 cm)
    • Yves Klein
    • Anthropométrie sans titre (ANT 162), 1960
    • Dry pigment and synthetic resin on paper laid down on canvas
    • 42½ × 29⅛ inches (108 × 74 cm)
    • Yves Klein
    • Anthropométrie sans titre (ANT 109), 1960
    • Dry pigment and synthetic resin on canvas
    • 86⅝ × 63 inches (220 × 160 cm)
    • Yves Klein
    • Monique, 1960
    • Dry pigment and synthetic resin on paper mounted on canvas
    • 30 × 16 inches (76.2 × 40.6 cm)
    • Yves Klein
    • Relief éponge rose sans titre (RE 3), c. 1960
    • Dry pigment and synthetic resin on natural sponges and gravel on panel
    • 31⅛ × 23⅝ inches (79 × 60 cm)
    • Yves Klein
    • Monochrome bleu sans titre (IKB 231), 1959
    • Dry pigment and synthetic resin on linen mounted on panel
    • 11 ⅝ × 25 ⁹⁄₁₆ inches (29.5 × 65 cm)
    • Yves Klein
    • Sculpture éponge rose sans titre (SE 204), 1959
    • Dry pigment and synthetic resin on natural sponge, metal stem, and stone base
    • Height: 15¼ inches (38.5 cm)
    • Yves Klein
    • Sculpture éponge bleu sans titre (SE 22), 1959
    • Dry pigment and synthetic resin on natural coral, metal stem, and base
    • 4⁵⁄₁₆ × 6⁵⁄₁₆ × 5⅛ inches (11 × 16 × 13 cm)

Selected Press