In every single book about colour and its meaning i've noticed that blue is commonly referred to as colour of sky and sea, depth and stability, twilight and sleep, spirituality and loyalty, piece and serenity. Gagarin said on 12 April 1961 from his space capsule: ‘The earthy is a beautiful blue colour’’. I would like to tell you a short story about a man, who knew blue as nobody ever did throughout the history of art, who became an architect of blue souls, a wanderer, capable of levitating in the blue space, ruling the kingdom of skies.
Yves Klein revolutionised the colour. A pioneer of performance art and a forerunner of pop-art, who earned a living as a judo instructor he developed his deep electric blue hue in the mid 50s, inspired by lapis-lazuli gemstone used by Old Masters to create the most beautiful shade of blue.
Passionate about his development, he later patented his distinctive ultramarine formulation as a trademark colour under the name International Klein Blue (IKB). Yves Klein began producing monochrome paintings in 1947. Ten years later at one of his exhibitions in Milan, he displayed eleven identical blue monochromes, each with a different price, which he claimed reflected its unique spirit.
In 1958 Klein exhibited an empty gallery. "The Void", an iconoclastic and scandalous exhibition devoid of all objects, suggested a complete white emptiness, an early example of conceptual art and the idea of a "white cube".
Rejecting paintbrushes, in 1960, he staged a public performance of his iconic series “Anthropometries,” where he instructed his nude models, so called "living brushes", to daub themselves with his signature blue paint and press their bodies against a large canvas, while a small orchestra played a “Monotone Symphony” of Klein’s own composition, in which a group of instruments plays a single note, for 20 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of silence.
One of the most influential and provocative figures in Post-war French painting, a co-founder of Nouveau Realisme, Yves Klein made nearly two hundred of those blue monochromes during his brief improbable career, before he died of a heart attack at 34. A french philosopher Gaston Bachelard once said “First there is nothing, then there is a deep nothing, then there is a blue depth.” I think the real blue was within Yves Klein himself, in the mysticism of his spirit, in the esoteric alchemy of his realms and that endless immaterial void which he saw in his blues.