Girona, August 2013
Text: Inga T.
The story goes that Klein and his friends Arman and Pascal, divided the world between the three of them. Arman went for the animals, Pascal the plants and Klein claimed the infinite sky. Klein’s view of the sky was as a pure and perfect creation and he would curse the birds that tainted that perfect art piece.
“Having rejected nothingness,
I discovered the void.”
Yves Klein was born in 1927, in Nice, on the sunny side of France. He was raised in an artistic environment, as both parents were painters. From an early age, Klein began to experiment with art and would come to dedicate his short life to paintings, music and performances.
Klein’s fascination with the infinite sky was to echo in his later work. His famous, Mediterranean Blue alludes to his celestial ownership claim. The simplicity and purity of Mediterranean Blue rocked the art world and left many perplexed over the artist’s intentions. Klein’s exhibition in Milan, in 1957, baffled some audience members: eleven identical formatted monochrome blue paintings, each with a different price tag. The exhibition left a lasting impression on the guests as they were served cocktails with a blue dye that made them urinate blue for days – a flowing reminder of the artist’s fascination with the colour.
Mediterranean Blue evokes a feel of mysticism and purity that enthralled Klein himself. His goal was to stimulate the senses of the viewer and its mind. The viewer was to experience a meditation through art, and as Klein believed ‘blue’ to be the colour of infinite and of the void, both art and artist would challenge the viewer to reject other boundaries and submit to ‘infinity’. To Klein, ‘blue’ represented spirit, sky and water and vastness of these elements. Klein’s obsession with purity and simplicity in any form and shape spurred him to write an eleven minute long single-tone symphony that was followed by a symphony of ‘silence’ - leaving folks even more perplexed by his artistic antics. Klein was intrigued by the unifying force of the colour, and Mediterranean Blue echoes never-ending spiritual freedom and transcendence. His art baffled his contemporaries - for embodying an ideology in such simple and pure way.
Whether Klein’s work has made its way through the history of art and created voids, is another question. Still, he created something new and his notions of space and colours, in particular “Klein’s blue” are here to stay. Probably, to Klein’s heart’s content…