Yves Klein, killed by paint!

Yves Klein, born on April 28, 1928 and a native of Nice, can be called a revolutionary of modern art. At the same time painter, sculptor, photographer, video artist and performer, his style and his perception of the universe made him a unique artist. 

Yves Klein was a master in martial arts. As the son of artists Marie Raymond and Fred Klein, Yves Klein seemed perfectly suited to pursue a career in the arts. Nevertheless, it was not this area he first turned his attention to. He had no formal background in the visual arts. He was instead deeply impressed by literature, music, religious studies, and, above all, judo. While in Japan in the the 1950s, he improved his skills and was honored with a 4th dan black belt, an exceptionally high level that no other French person had ever earned at that time. 

Yves Klein, born on April 28, 1928 and a native of Nice, can be called a revolutionary of modern art. At the same time painter, sculptor, photographer, video artist and performer, his style and his perception of the universe made him a unique artist. 

Yves Klein was a master in martial arts. As the son of artists Marie Raymond and Fred Klein, Yves Klein seemed perfectly suited to pursue a career in the arts. Nevertheless, it was not this area he first turned his attention to. He had no formal background in the visual arts. He was instead deeply impressed by literature, music, religious studies, and, above all, judo. While in Japan in the the 1950s, he improved his skills and was honored with a 4th dan black belt, an exceptionally high level that no other French person had ever earned at that time. 

Why did Yves Klein decide to paint in blue? 

Standing in front of one of his paintings today is like looking through a huge window into the universe. Klein wants the two-dimensional to be endless, the framed to be boundless, and no material seems more appropriate for this than clear blue color pigment.

But the trouble is: the binders Klein used to fix his blue robbed the paint of its strength. So in the mid-fifties, Klein set out to develop a new medium. He experiments with new types of fixatives and discovers a resin-based resin binder that enhances the luminosity and granularity precisely as he wants. However, the chemical has its drawbacks. It works as a binder, and it makes the pigments bright, but during handling, it releases hazardous gases. Klein, who soaked hundreds of sponges with this substance himself, totally barehanded, is said to of been completely unaware of the danger. The flawless blue wrecked his physical condition.

He passed away at the age of 34 from a sudden heart attack. One day before he died, he said to his wife that he would now have the world’ s greatest atelier and would create exclusively immaterial art.

Yves Klein, Monochrome bleu Sans Titre (IKB Godet), 1958, collection privée, en dépôt au MAMAC, Nice, © Succession Yves Klein c/o Adagp, Paris ; Photo François Fernandez

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