About us
Artists Yves Klein
Yves Klein Photo

Yves Klein

French Painter

Movements and Styles: Nouveau Réalisme, Performance Art

Born: April 28, 1928 - Nice, France

Died: June 6, 1962 - Paris, France

Yves Klein Timeline

Quotes

"As I lay stretched upon the beach of Nice, I began to feel hatred for birds which flew back and forth across my blue sky, cloudless sky, because they tried to bore holes in my greatest and most beautiful work."
Yves Klein
"The imagination is the vehicle of sensibility. Transported by the imagination, we attain life, life itself, which is absolute art."
Yves Klein
"I was an extreme element of society who lived in space and who had no means of coming back to earth."
Yves Klein
"For me, each nuance of a color is in some way an individual, a being who is not only from the same race as the base color, but who definitely possesses a distinct character and personal soul."
Yves Klein
"My monochrome pictures are not my definite works, but the preparation for my works. They are the leftovers from the creative processes, the ashes. My pictures, after all, are only the title-deeds to my property which I have to produce when I am asked to prove that I am a proprietor."
Yves Klein

"The imagination is the vehicle of sensibility. Transported by the imagination, we attain life, life itself, which is absolute art."

Yves Klein Signature

Synopsis

Yves Klein was the most influential, prominent, and controversial French artist to emerge in the 1950s. He is remembered above all for his use of a single color, the rich shade of ultramarine that he made his own: International Klein Blue. But the success of his sadly short-lived career lay in attacking many of the ideas that underpinned the abstract painting that had been dominant in France since the end of the Second World War. For some critics he is a descendent of Marcel Duchamp, a prankster who lampooned settled understandings of painting and opened art up to new media. Others consider him as a descendant of earlier avant-garde artists such as Kazimir Malevich and Aleksander Rodchenko, who were also attracted to the monochrome. And even in the ways he used performance later on in his career, he is like many artists who rediscovered some of the tactics of earlier avant-gardes in the 1950s and '60s. Klein might also be compared to his contemporary Joseph Beuys, for, like Beuys, he embraced aspects of Romanticism and mysticism - Klein was intrigued by Eastern religion and Rosicrucianism, and was even influenced by judo. Also like Beuys, many have condemned him as an obscurantist and a charlatan: yet the brevity, wit, and seductive beauty of much of his work continues to inspire.

Key Ideas

The abstract painting that dominated French art in the 1950s was invariably premised on the notion that an artist could communicate with the viewer through the power of abstract form. But skeptics of modern, abstract art have always alleged that the viewers, like the faithful devotees of a false god, do more of the work than the artist, investing the forms with their own feelings rather than discovering the artist's. Viewed in this light, Klein's monochrome blue paintings might be read as a satire on abstract art, for not only do the pictures carry no motif, but Klein insisted there was nothing there at all, only "the void."
Klein's pictures may also be read in a contradictory fashion. He was genuinely fascinated by mystical ideas, by notions of the infinite, the undefinable, the absolute, and his use of a single rich and suggestive tone of blue might be seen as an attempt to free the viewer from all imposed ideas and let their mind soar. For, as Klein believed, lines in pictures were a form of "prison grating," and only color offered the path to freedom.
Throughout Klein's work, from his canvas monochromes to his later performances, there is a stress on immediate experience that reflects aspects of the Performance art movement of the 1960s. Although he was never specifically opposed to creating art objects, many of Klein's later works seem to want to abandon the object as a vehicle for art and instead find ways to more directly transmit ideas and experiences.

Biography

Yves Klein Photo

Childhood

Yves Klein was born on April 28, 1928, in Nice, France, to an artistic family; his mother, Marie Raymond, was a leading figure in the Art Informel movement, while his father, Fred Klein, painted figures and landscapes characteristic of the Post-Impressionists. Although Klein grew up in a creative household, he received no formal artistic training. The family lived in Paris between 1930 and 1939, but spent the summer months with artist friends in Cagnes-sur-Mer where Klein was left in the care of his aunt, Rose Raymond. She provided him with stability and a pragmatic outlook, a stark contrast to his parents' free-spirited attitude. These differing viewpoints, combined with his parents' artistic conflicts between figurative and abstract work, eventually led Klein to reject line and severely restrict color in his early work.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Yves Klein Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Yves Klein
Interactive chart with Yves Klein's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Eugène DelacroixEugène Delacroix
Vincent van GoghVincent van Gogh
Kazimir MalevichKazimir Malevich
Piet MondrianPiet Mondrian
Wassily KandinskyWassily Kandinsky

Personal Contacts

Pierre RestanyPierre Restany
Claude PascalClaude Pascal
Max HeindelMax Heindel

Movements

Post-ImpressionismPost-Impressionism
Art InformelArt Informel
DadaDada

Influences on Artist
Yves Klein
Yves Klein
Years Worked: 1955 - 1962
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Jean TinguelyJean Tinguely
Raymond HainsRaymond Hains
John CageJohn Cage

Personal Contacts

Pierre RestanyPierre Restany
ArmanArman
Claude PascalClaude Pascal
Thomas McEvilleyThomas McEvilley
Dino BuzzatiDino Buzzati

Movements

Monochrome PaintingMonochrome Painting
Neo-DadaNeo-Dada
Nouveau RéalismeNouveau Réalisme
Performance ArtPerformance Art

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Larissa Borteh

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Larissa Borteh
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
Available from:
[Accessed ]