Hue and cry

A new show at Blen­heim Palace cel­e­brates Yves Klein, the artist whose blue pe­riod lasted longer than most

Esquire (UK) - - Culture - Yves Klein at Blen­heim Palace, 18 July to 7 Oc­to­ber, Ox­ford­shire; blenheim­

Here’s hop­ing that the

Blen­heim Art Foun­da­tion, which has ar­ranged the forth­com­ing ex­hi­bi­tion Yves Klein at Blen­heim Palace, has cho­sen to show his 1958 work, “Le Vide”, which con­sisted of a white room with noth­ing in it but an empty cabi­net. Not that the orig­i­nal Parisian au­di­ence seemed to mind, as a re­ported 3,000 peo­ple turned up on the open­ing night, some moved, as Klein re­ported in his diary, to “trem­ble or be­gin to cry”

(the blue cock­tails served at the door might have also been a fac­tor).

For even though the French artist, who died from a heart at­tack in 1962 at only 34, is fa­mous mostly for the in­tense shade of blue he cre­ated — known as In­ter­na­tional Klein Blue, or IKB — it was by no means the only in­no­va­tive move in his short but var­ied ca­reer. He also made a work of a sin­gle chord, sus­tained for 20 min­utes, fol­lowed by 20 more min­utes of si­lence. He made an­other by plac­ing a can­vas on the roof of his white Citroen, then hurtling down the mo­tor­way at 100kmh. He got mar­ried dressed as a Knight Tem­plar. He earned a black belt at the old­est judo school in Ja­pan.

The Blen­heim show, how­ever, will fo­cus more on the tan­gi­ble — and in­deed the blue — fea­tur­ing 50 art­works that in­clude his sponge sculp­tures, made with the sponges he used to paint with sat­u­rated in IKB, and his “Venus Bleue”, a re­cre­ation of the “Venus de Milo” cov­ered in, you guessed it. It will even in­clude some of his “An­thro­pom­e­try” paint­ings made us­ing naked women in­stead of paint­brushes, though live recre­ations might be a bit of a stretch. But it’s worth re­mem­ber­ing that the iconic blue pig­ment was, in fact, like the empty room with a cup­board, a pur­suit of tran­scen­dence, the sub­lime, the void in which the artist is all but erased. Per­haps, as the works no doubt get In­sta­grammed and de­con­tex­tu­alised to obliv­ion, Klein will get his wish.

Into the blue (from left): Yves Klein with his ‘Blue Sponge’ sculp­ture, Paris, 1960; Klein’s ‘Un­ti­tled An­thro­pom­e­try (ANT 106)’, 1960

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