Described by its maker as being “beyond dimension”, International Klein Blue is the colour that painted the art world… ultramarine
More than a colour, discover why International Klein Blue is the world’s most hard-to-get hue
THE EXTREMELY RARE “TABLE IKB” – RELEASED FOLLOWING CREATOR YVES KLEIN’S DEATH IN 1962 – IS FILLED WITH RICH BLUE PIGMENT
THE WORLD HAS LONG BEEN BEGUILED BY the colour blue, or more specifically, ultramarine. A bright, brilliant hue, ultramarine is the sort of blue all others wish they had been. The pigment was once considered more precious than gold and legend has it Michelangelo left an artwork unfinished because he couldn’t afford to buy enough. Centuries later, a young French artist named Yves Klein patented his own version of ultramarine and called it International Klein Blue (IKB). The thing is, IKB isn’t a colour per se because colour can’t be owned – it’s a paint-making process. With the help of Edouard Adam, a paint supplier, Yves developed a resin binder that, when combined with raw ultramarine pigment, formed a paint that retained the colour’s luminous intensity. While other binders dull the pigment, this process created a rich, velvety texture with hypnotising depth. From then on, Yves used IKB on everything from sea sponge sculptures to blue monochromes on canvas. Should you gaze at one, you’ll notice the absence of paint strokes – Yves preferred rollers, which eliminate hand gestures. IKB’s most infamous moment in its history was the making of the Anthropometry paintings. In front of an audience, naked women covered in ultramarine paint acted as human paint brushes while Yves directed them to imprint their bodies onto canvas. IKB has since been both imitated and celebrated in architecture and fashion. Today, you can buy a jar of the ultramarine pigment – now called Le Medium Adam25 – in Paris, at the very art supply shop founded by Edouard Adam’s grandfather.
South of France When used in interiors, International Klein Blue (IKB) brings a vibrant edge to any room. Here, a limited-edition Yves Klein “Table IKB” coffee table is the indisputable star of this living area.