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Yves Klein

The French painter and sculptor Yves Klein was born in 1928 and died in 1962. He was a protagonist of the post-war artistic avant-garde movement. A painter of Anthropometries and Monochromes, he also perfected the Klein Blue and was the co-founder of New Realism.


The birth of an artist

Yves Klein was born to artist parents: the painter Frédéric Klein and Marie Raymond (an abstract painter).
He was educated at the Ecole Nationale de la Marine Marchande and the École Nationale des Langues Orientales in Nice from 1944 to 1946.
A judo enthusiast, he considered that it was an intellectual and moral method of education that led towards self-control. In 1952, he travelled to Japan, where he became a black belt, fourth dan, a grade that no other French person had achieved at the time. In his artistic work, Klein maintained a very special relationship with the body.
Klein was also greatly inspired by The Rosicrucian Cosmogony of the Rosicrucian mystic, Max Heindel, and Bachelard who were to form the foundations of the thinking that fed his work.

Yves Klein, monochrome

Yves, paintings: the first exhibition of monochrome paintings (orange, green, red, yellow, blue, pink) at the Club des Solitaires in 1955. Klein believed that pure colour already represented something in its own right: “Painting is, first and foremost, colour sufficient in itself ".

In 1956, his meeting with the art critic Pierre Restany marked a decisive turning point in the understanding of his art. Artistic circles in Paris became familiar with his work on a single colour. Klein became famous under the name of “Yves monochrome”.

Klein Blue: a turning point in modern art

In autumn 1956, Klein worked with a chemist to create “the most perfect expression of blue”: International Klein Blue (IKB). His blue monochromes expressed a dialectic between substance and spirit, the physical and the spiritual, time and the infinite: “Blue has no dimension, it is beyond dimensions”.
He used women’s bodies like living paintbrushes: nude women, painted blue, placed the imprint of their bodies on large white canvases to produce what were called the Anthropometries (1958-1960) and Cosmogonies (1960).

The Foundation of New Realism

In 1960, Pierre Restany and Yves Klein founded the New Realism. The Constitutive Declaration of the New Realism of 27 October 1960 was jointly signed by a number of his contemporaries, including Niki de Saint Phalle and Christo.
He said to his friends: “You are artists; I’m just a man who has ideas about art”.
Yves Klein married the young artist Rotraut Uecker in 1962, the year in which he died.
Christiane Duparc, a journalist at the Nouvel Observateur, said of him: “He marked a turning point in modern art. He embodied all the tensions at the crossroads between the material and the immaterial.”


See the works of Yves Klein on the Yves Klein Archives website.

Useful links

The official Yves Klein website

Further information about the Yves Klein, Corps, Couleur, Immatériel exhibition that took place at the Pompidou Centre in 2006/2007:
>> Read the explanatory notes on Corps, Couleur, Immatériel

Read the Pompidou Centre explanatory notes on New Realism

Yves Klein 's products at Nouvelles Images

> Prints and posters

Prints and posters Anthropometry

Nationality(ies) : French
Born on : 28/04/1928
Died on : 06/06/1962
Profile : Painter, Sculptor
Artistic current(s) : Modern Art, New Realism
Theme(s) covered : Portraits - Characters, Colors and materials

Yves Klein