Yves Klein’s Resurgence
This summer as I was working on my latest series, 'Blurred Lines', I drew inspiration from a number of places. Social media, psychology texts, Victorian floriography… Another significant inspiration was the work of artist Yves Klein, which culminated in ‘Blurred Lines III’.
The particular hue of blue stems from the most famous French artist of the mic-twentieth century. Yves Klein worked in paint, and later performance, almost unilaterally using a monochrome palate. The colour in question? A royal, deep blue that became synonymous with his name.
Abstract painting had taken over the French art world of the 1950s and with it, came the suggestion that an artist could convey their points to their audience/viewer through abstract forms. Klein’s paintings strip things away further, carrying no motifs, with the artist himself suggesting that there was nothing there at all (he famously titled a series ‘The Void’). However, we also know that Klein was fascinated by the mystical. So perhaps the ‘nothing’ he referred to was not a negative concept but a blank canvas that allowed a viewer to forget imposed connotations and free their minds. Colour as the path to cerebral freedom. A satire on abstract art.
In the 1960s Klein moved into performance art (it’s not coincidence that another group of satirist performers chose his particular shade of blue; the Blue Man Group.) Yves Klein and his particular shade of blue have long been an inspiration for artists and culture at large. From the official pantone designation (IKB) to a swath of projects, there hasn’t been a shortage of homages.
But it would seem, that I wasn’t the only one with Klein on the mind this summer. After I produced ‘Blurred Lines’, it seemed that Yves was everywhere. A new exhibit of his artwork just opened at Tate Liverpool. And when W Magazine celebrated the tenth anniversary of their Art Issue, they had 'it girl' and model Kendall Jenner reinterpret famous performance pieces. Top of the list was Yves Klein.
Another recent usage and homage to this shade came from the fashion house Céline’s spring 2017 collection. Paris Fashion week was ablaze with International Klein Blue.
I’m sure, like me, you’ll never be able to look at this hue without think of Klein Yves again.