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Mr. Burgher's Art Facts

Yves Klein

Mix Master
About Mr.B

Yves Klein: April 28,1928-June 6,1962...France

"For color! Against the line and drawing!"
~Yves Klein

One of the more outrageous artists that I cover and respect as an extremely creative artist is Yves Klein. His father, Fred, was a figuration painter and his mother, Marie, was an abstract painter in Yves hometown of Nice, France. "Born into a milieu of painters, I acquired my taste for painting with my mother’s milk." He received his formal training from the Ecole Nationale de la Marine Marchande and the Ecole Nationale des Langues Orientales.

The first project that would be used to put Klein on the art map was his Monotone-Silence Symphony. This was a musical composition of a single note. After the Symphony, Klein took time to travel before giving nearly a year to join the German military during most of 1949. Following this time, he worked as a gold-leaf gilder for a frame shop in London, England. Soon he traveled to Spain, Italy, Japan and wound his way back over to Paris, France. After several explorations with different styles, Klein was moved to digress to his successes with monochrome images. "After having gone through several periods, my research has led me to paint unified monochrome pictures. My canvases are therefore covered by one or several layers of a single color after a certain preparation of the support and using various technical procedures. No drawing is visible, no variation in hue; there is nothing but the UNITY of a single color. The dominant invades the entire picture, as it were. In this way I seek to individualize the color, because I have come to believe that there is a living world of each color and I express these worlds."

Klein took his monochrome works a step further in 1957. In an exhibition of his new works, he displayed eleven works that were painted ultramarine blue. This was his new fascination with blue. He created blue sculptures, painted gallery rooms blue, displaying tubs of pure pigment, used chemicals to create blue fire, and even released 1,001 blue balloons in Paris. The idea evolved into his hiring two models to be painted blue and their bodies would be imprinted by stamping their bodies onto the white paper. This work was called Celebration of a New Anthropometric Period (Célébration d’une nouvelle Ere anthropométrique). This work led to his art event known as Anthropometries of the Blue Period. As the Monotone Symphony was being performed for the audience, under Klein’s direction, nude female models cover themselves in blue paint and affix their body prints on the white papers on the floor and wall of the International Gallery of Contemporary Art in Paris according to Klein's direct instructions. The ladies rolled and were dragged by Klein across the papers in this odd combination of music, paint, and dance. The audience was asked to participate in the event as well. One of the artists that did assist, was fellow performance artist Georges Mathieu. After the painting was done, Klein stood in front of the group for twenty minutes…then he left.

Another of Klein's great works was Leap into the Void. This is a photograph taken of him in mid-belly flop, falling down toward a street. The photo was assembled with the aid of photographers Harry Shunk and Janos Kender. It was origionally published on November 27, 1960. In this news paper, "Dimanche - Le Journal d'un Seul Jour" ("Sunday - The Newspaper for Only One Day"), The four page newspaper featured the photo on is cover with the caption, "The painter of space hurls himself into the void!" The photo was taken at 67 rue de l'Assomption in the Paris suburb of Fontenay-aux-Roses, just south of the city. It is clearly an edited photo, but how it was done is unknown. Some say Klein landed on a tarp, in a net, or on a large stack of judo mats.

Klein had developed a specific hue of blue that he had been using for some time. May 19, 1960 he registered his formula and was granted a patent on his blue: International Klein Blue (IKB).

As his popularity was rising, Klein met Rotraut Uecker. She became his assistant, but would also soon become his wife. They were married on January 21, 1961. Klein was an active man, with a great passion for judo; "Judo is in fact the discovery by the human body of a spiritual space." He studied judo from 1946 to 1952. He was a black belt and was an instructor in Madrid, Spain. He even went to Tokyo to attain a 4th Dan atthe famed Kodokan Judo Institute. He even wrote a book (The Foundations of Judo) and opened the unsuccessful Judo Acadeny of Paris. Although active, soon his lifestyle and stress caught up with him. Between May twelfth and June sixth, Klein had three heart attacks. He died at his home in Paris on June sixth at six o’clock in the evening at the age of thirty-four. His wife had their child in August.

Mr. Mike Burgher * PO Box 247 * Dallas Center, Iowa. 50063