Yves Klein was a leader of the Nouveau réalisme movement . Klein was a pioneer in the development of Performance art, and is seen as an inspiration to and as a forerunner of Minimal art. His short career was characterised by many radical gestures, often touched with his flair for spectacle. To celebrate the opening of a solo exhibition in 1957, for instance, he released 1,001 helium-filled blue balloons in the St-Germain-des-Prés district of Paris. The following year, an exhibition now known as ‘The Void’ consisted of nothing more than an empty gallery – yet it attracted a crowd of 2,500 people that had to be dispersed by police.
Kles one of the most radical figures in postwar western art. He influenced minimal, conceptual and performance art, taking painting out of the frame, which he felt had imprisoned it for too long. His monochromes, hung several inches in front of the wall, were intended to saturate the viewer’s space. Klein also blurred the boundaries between painting and sculpture by impregnating a range of objects, from sponges to plaster casts, with his signature blue. In his “anthropometries”, he helped naked female models smothered in paint to impress their moving bodies on large sheets of paper. He invented a number of other strategies to depersonalise and dematerialise the art object, including using fire and presenting empty space (“the void”), which he felt was pregnant with possibilities. Much of his work has a spiritual or transcendental quality.
Yves Klein in a bowler hat as he stands in front of one of his Blue Sponge Sculptures, late 1950s. The first public display of these sculptures, which were made from different sized sponges that had been dyed blue, was on June 15, 1959 at the Galerie Iris Clert in Paris, France.
In 1960, Klein rejected paintbrushes as “too excessively psychological” but used naked women smeared with International Klein Blue as “human brushes” for his “Anthropometry” paintings. These were made in public performances at which he wore white tie and tails.
Yves Klein, staged “Leap” as one of a series of works that reflected his idea of the “Void”, a state of consciousness in which reality may be experienced without pre-conceived notions of materiality or the world.
In 1956, with the assistance of a chemical technician, Klein succeeded in suspending his favorite ultramarine pigment in petroleum extracts, which allowed the pigment to maintain its brilliance and something of its powdery texture without dulling. He named the substance International Klein Blue, IKB.
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