Color Story

La Vie En Bleu

“Blue has no dimensions; it is beyond dimensions, whereas the other colors are not… All colors arouse specific associative ideas… while blue suggests at most the sea and sky, and they, after all, are in actual, visible nature what is most abstract.” -Yves Klein

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Born in Nice, France in 1928, the artist Yves Klein is best known for his extensive (and eccentric) use of an intensely rich hue of blue, later called “International Klein Blue,” which he used exclusively in several identical minimalist paintings as well as in other works that anticipated the conceptual, performance, body, and environmental art movements to come. In his short life—he lived only 34 years—Klein received critical acclaim for his pioneering art and accomplished several impressive feats, not least of which included becoming a judo master, a rare achievement for a Westerner at the time. One of our favorite stories about Yves Klein involves his April 1958 exhibition at the Iris Clert Gallery in Paris:

Bearing the unwieldy title “La spécialisation de la sensibilité à l’état matière première en sensibilité picturale stabilisée, Le Vide (The Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Material State into Stabilized Pictorial Sensibility, The Void),” this immaterial exhibition consisted simply of a gallery painted white containing an empty glass cabinet. On the opening night—the date of Klein’s 30th birthday—3000 visitors waited in line outside, only to be allowed in 10 at a time. A blue curtain was hung in the lobby of the gallery, attended by two Republican Guards, who in turn were guarded by two of Klein’s judo friends. Guests were served cocktails of gin and Cointreau that were dyed blue with methylene. Hailed as a wild success, the opening left quite an impression on its attendees; fittingly, all who’d drunk the cocktails urinated blue the following day!

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