Yves Klein


French, 1928 – 1962

Yves Klein was born in Nice, France in 1928 to artist parents.  His father painted in a Post-Impressionist style and his mother was a leading artist in the Art Informel movement which about the absence of premeditated structure or conception.  Growing up, the Klein house was often full of artists and most certainly had an influence on Yves.

Yves Klein

Image Credit: © Charles Wilp / BPK, Berlin

Klein was a pioneer in the development of performance art.  In the late 1940s, he conceived of what he called a Monotone Symphony.  This consisted of single 20-minute sustained chord followed by a 20-minute silence.   Yves Klein began painting his monochromes around 1947.  This is the style of work for which he would become best known.

Yves Kline traveled extensively to Italy, Great Britain, Spain, and Japan.  He lived in London and worked for a frame shop where he learned gold leaf techniques.  This would be used in many of his artworks.  Klein moved to Paris in 1955.  There he worked with a paint supply shop to develop a color blue that would be called IKB, International Klein Blue.  The intense color relayed on heavy use of ultramarine pigment. For the artist, the use of a single color removed the distraction, brought by shape and form, from achieving the goal of creating a pure experience of cosmic energy.

His work is now thought to be an inspiration or forerunner of Minimal art and Pop art.  Critics have placed his work as part of neo-Dada and post modernism.  His breadth of creative output included painting, sculpture, performance art, and music composition.  Yves Klein died from his third heart attack in Paris in 1962, at early age thirty-four.