Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers
May 20, 2010 to September 12, 2010
One of the last century’s most influential artists, Yves Klein (French, b. Nice, 1928; d. Paris, 1962) took the European art scene by storm in a prolific career that lasted only from 1954 to 1962, when he suffered a heart attack at the age of 34. Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers is the first major retrospective of the artist’s work in the United States in nearly 30 years. The exhibition will include examples from all of Klein’s major series, including his Anthropometries, Cosmogonies, fire paintings, planetary reliefs, and blue monochromes, as well as selections of his lesser-known gold and pink monochromes, body and sponge reliefs, “air architecture,” and immaterial works. The installation will also foreground the artist’s process and conceptual projects through a range of ephemera, including sketches, photographs, letters, and writings.
Yves Klein created what he considered his first artwork when he signed the sky above Nice in 1947, making his earliest attempt to capture the immaterial. Klein was an innovator who embraced painting, sculpture, performance, photography, music, theater, film, architecture, and theoretical writing. Self-identified as “the painter of space,” he sought to achieve immaterial spirituality through pure color (primarily an ultramarine blue of his own invention—International Klein Blue). The artist’s diverse body of work represents a pivotal transition from modern art’s concern with the material object to contemporary notions of the conceptual nature of art and is informed by Klein’s study of the mystical sect Rosicrucianism, philosophical and poetic investigations of space and science, and the practice of Judo.
The exhibition is co-organized by the Hirshhorn and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and is co-curated by Hirshhorn deputy director and chief curator Kerry Brougher and Philippe Vergne, director of Dia Art Foundation.
Having had rejected brushes as too excessively psychological already earlier, I painted with rollers, in order to remain anonymous and at a “distance” between the canvas and myself during the execution, at least intellectually.… Now, what a miracle, the brush returned, but this time it is alive: it was the flesh itself that applied the color to the canvas, under my direction, with a perfect precision, allowing me to remain constantly at an exact distance “x” from my canvas and thus continue to dominate my creation during the entire execution.
Excerpt from “Truth Becomes Reality,” in “Overcoming the Problematics of Art: The Writings of Yves Klein,” trans. Klaus Ottmann (Spring Publications, 2007), p. 186–87.
The creator must command his creation, keep it at a distance, in order to paint without touching the paint, the canvas, or the brush.
However, in order to maintain “continuity” between the creator and his creation, it is necessary to employ living intermediaries between the creator and his work. The tools of flesh, the nude models in the studio, are the new living brushes of the painter of today; these models must paint with their bodies only, i.e., the trunk and hips, nothing more. The hands and feet, the psychological parts of the body, should be used by the models merely for smearing paint of a chosen color onto their bodies. Which is obviously the color blue!”
Yves Klein [Trans. Klaus Ottmann]