Yves Klein and His Use of Blue: How These 5 Facts Made Him Famous (2023)

Yves Klein and His Use of Blue: How These 5 Facts Made Him Famous (1)

Yves Klein is a French artist, a member of the Nouveau réalisme group, and an inventor of the International Klein Blue color. This shade of blue is used in many of his famous blue paintings. During his short life, Klein made a great impact on modern art history. He created proto-conceptual artworks, proto-performances, and explored ideas of spirituality immateriality in art. Here, we explore the fascinating life and work of the great Yves Klein.

1. Yves Klein Was A Very Spiritual Artist

Yves Klein and His Use of Blue: How These 5 Facts Made Him Famous (2)Yves Klein and His Use of Blue: How These 5 Facts Made Him Famous (3)

Yves Klein was inspired by many things and found spirituality in his judo practice, Christianity, and mysticism. He was born into a family of artists in 1928. His mother, Marie Raymond, was a well-known abstract painter, and his father, Fred Klein, created figurative paintings.

Despite his artistic roots, Klein wanted to be a judoist at first. In 1947, he started training judo. Five years late he even traveled to Japan for training and received a fourth dan blackbelt. At the time, he was the only French person to have one. Klein even wrote a book on the foundations of Judo and wanted to become a judo teacher, so he opened his judo school in 1955. It’s worth noting that the school was designed in monochrome colors we see in Klein’s artworks.

Yves Klein and His Use of Blue: How These 5 Facts Made Him Famous (4)Yves Klein and His Use of Blue: How These 5 Facts Made Him Famous (5)

Yves Klein also learned about the mysticism of the Rosicrucian order and read works written by the philosopher Gaston Bachelard. When he was nineteen years old he read Cosmogonie by Max Heindel – a book that was considered important for the Rosicrucian Order. Klein was so drawn to their philosophy and ideas that he started getting lessons by mail from the Rosicrucian Society in California. The artist also knew a lot about Buddhism and Buddhist teachings.

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Yves Klein and His Use of Blue: How These 5 Facts Made Him Famous (6)Yves Klein and His Use of Blue: How These 5 Facts Made Him Famous (7)

Yves Klein’s spirituality can also be seen through the artist’s dedication to Saint Rita of Cascia, the patron saint of lost causes. To give thanks to Saint Rita, Klein donated a beautiful artwork know as his Ex-voto to the monastery of Saint Rita of Cascia in Italy in 1961. In this small, but exquisite work we can see all of the typical Yves Klein visual elements. His monochrome colors are present, including the International Klein Blue seen in his blue paintings. The work was, however, discovered much later, in 1979. During his life, Klein made at least five pilgrimages to Cascia and even wrote a handwritten prayer to Saint Rita. It’s also interesting to note that the building in Paris, where Klein made his piece Leap into the Void, later became a church dedicated to Saint Rita.

2. Klein Was A Member Of Nouveau Réalisme Movemement

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During his exhibition called Yves, paintings in Paris, Klein met the art critic Pierre Restany. Restany was a key figure for the development of the Nouveau réalisme movement. This French art movement was founded in October of 1960. The Nouveau réalisme Manifesto was written on a piece of paper that was colored in the famous International Klein Blue seen in Klein’s blue paintings. The Manifesto was signed by the artist himself, Restany, and six other people. Artists who signed the document were Arman, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, Raymond Hains, Francois Dufrene, and Jacques de la Villegle. In later years, artists like Mimmo Rotella, Christo, and Niki de Saint Phalle also joined the movement.

The term Nouveau réalisme was created by Restany. He was referring to the 19th-century art movement Realism, with the added prefix New. Like New Realism, other New movements were Nouvelle Vague, also known as the New Wave, and Neo-Dada. The movement is thought of as the French equivalent to American Pop art.

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The artists of New Realism used many techniques and created a variety of artworks. They made collages, assemblages, wrappings, sculptures, proto-performances, and much more. The New Realists organized group exhibitions in 1962 and 1963, but the movement remained active for around 10 years.

During his career, Yves Klein collaborated with another Nouveau réalisme artist Jean Tinguely. Together they made three kinetic sculptures. He also created relief portraits of fellow New Realism artists like Arman and Martial Raysse based on life-sized plaster models of their figures. And you guessed it, they were also colored blue.

(Video) Yves Klein Blue - About The Future

3. Klein Made Conceptual Art Before The Movement Was Born

Yves Klein and His Use of Blue: How These 5 Facts Made Him Famous (12)Yves Klein and His Use of Blue: How These 5 Facts Made Him Famous (13)

Yves Klein experimented with a type of immaterial art that was soon to become known as conceptual art. So, it’s safe to say that he had a major influence on conceptual art.

In his 1960 piece Leap into the Void Yves Klein presented his attempt to fly. In this

black and white photograph, we see a nicely dressed Klein falling from the sky and almost hitting the pavement of a Parisian street in the Fontenay-aux-Roses. The photographs serve as documentation of this performance of Klein’s. Artists Jean Kender and Harry Shunk took the photos of the leap. The final photograph is, however, a montage, or should we say – it is “photoshopped.” For the creation of the work, several people helped Klein by holding a trampoline where the artist could fall without getting hurt.

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Another proto-conceptual work of Klein’s is called The Void. Klein had pronounced his paintings invisible in 1958, and for the exhibition of The Void at the Iris Clert Gallery in Paris, he wanted to take the idea of immateriality even further. He exhibited the empty space of the gallery. There was nothing to be seen inside and the mere exhibition was the artwork itself. It’s interesting to know that during the opening blue drinks were being served to guests, and those blue cocktails supposedly turned guests’ urine blue.

For the opening of the exhibition, Klein also released 1000 blue balloons to the sky. He even sold two immaterial paintings at the Iris Clert Gallery. If we try to understand the opening of the exhibition, the flying balloons, the blue cocktails, and the people who came to the gallery as the artwork, then we get close to ideas related to conceptual art, happenings, and performance art. Those art movements were of course yet to come, so it safe to say that Yves Klein was ahead of his time.

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We can surely say that Klein was fascinated with the idea of immateriality. Another fascinating work made by Klein was named the Zone of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility. The work itself was immaterial and therefore, invisible. The people who chose to buy it received a cheque stating the ownership of the work. For this piece, however, Klein didn’t accept money. Payment could only be made in gold. Right after receiving the gold, Klein threw a part of it into the Seine or the sea. People who bought the work were asked to burn the cheques they had priorly received. Finally, the buyers ended up with nothing, so the immaterial piece Klein had in mind was achieved. The Zone of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility is a fine example of a proto-conceptual artwork.

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4. Klein Is Famous For His Blue Paintings

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For Klein, color was the way to get in touch with the immaterial and infinite. He began painting his monochromes in 1947. Klein even claimed that in the future artists would only use one color in their works. Klein’s most famous works are probably his blue paintings, but in the monochrome paintings, the artist also used colors pink, gold, and orange. During his artistic career, Yves Klein painted around two hundred blue paintings.

Klein’s blue was supposed to represent the immaterial, the pure form, and space. Blue was infinite like the sky. Klein even trademarked the color in 1957 and named it International Klein Blue or IKB. Blue had no dimensions. Klein was also inspired by the blue skies of Giotto’s paintings in the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi, which he visited.

In 1956, Yves Klein organized an exhibition called Monochromes at the Colette Allendy Gallery in Paris. Here, the artist exhibited only his monochrome works, including his blue paintings.

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In 1957, he presented eleven of his blue paintings at the Gallery Apollinaire in Milan, Italy. The blue paintings were exhibited 20 cm away from the wall so that it seemed like they were levitating in space. The canvases only showed a saturated blue color, so the viewers could get lost in the colored space of blue paintings.

Klein also painted many sculptures in his famous shade we see in the blue paintings. He painted sponges and reliefs. He even recreated several ancient sculptures and painted them blue. There is his beautiful version of Victory of Samothrace and his Venus Bleue modeled after Venus de Milo. The artist also made a blue version of Michelangelo’s Dying Slave sculpture.

5. Yves Klein Used Human Bodies As Paintbrushes

(Video) Yves Klein Blue - About The Future (Alternate Version)
Yves Klein and His Use of Blue: How These 5 Facts Made Him Famous (22)Yves Klein and His Use of Blue: How These 5 Facts Made Him Famous (23)

For the creation of his Anthropometry series in 1960, Klein directed nude women to roll their bodies in blue paint and then leave marks on canvases. Therefore, female bodies functioned as paintbrushes in this series. The shade of blue paint was the same one used in Klein’s blue paintings. For the Anthropometry series, Klein was supposedly inspired by the way bodies left marks on mats in Judo.

Klein also organized events for the creation of the Anthropometry paintings. Guests were invited to watch models paint the canvases blue with their bodies while drinking blue cocktails and listening to music. Klein’s musical choice was also unusual. The Monotone-Silence Symphony which was played during the painting session consisted of only one note being repeatedly played for twenty minutes, followed by twenty minutes of silence.

Human bodies were not the only interesting “tool” Klein used in the process of creating art. The artist also created fascinating works and abstract shapes with fire. He created a series of his Fire Paintings in 1961 for which he used a blow torch weighing almost 80 pounds. These works were made with the help of the laboratory of the National Gasworks of France. A fireman was always by Klein’s side so that no accidents would happen.


Why is Klein blue famous? ›

Above all accolades and achievements, Klein ultimately became famous for developing a vivid, intense shade of blue. For Klein, this blue held significant meaning, representing his spirituality and religious upbringing, the essence of natural elements like water and sky, and the vast expanse of the universe.

Why is blue monochrome famous? ›

Blue Monochrome is one from a dizzying array of innovations that Klein pursued in order to cultivate a new aesthetic consciousness. Undivided by drawing and seemingly untouched by the artist's hand, the radiant field frees color from the confines of form.

What is Yves Klein famous for? ›

Yves Klein was the most influential, prominent, and controversial French artist to emerge in the 1950s. He is remembered above all for his use of a single color, the rich shade of ultramarine that he made his own: International Klein Blue.

Who made the famous blue painting? ›

Famous for his blue paintings, Yves Klein is one of the best-known artists of the 20th-century. Take a look at these 5 facts about his life and work.

How did blue become famous? ›

Blue became the first UK representatives since The Shadows in 1975 to have had multiple no. 1 singles in the UK chart prior to appearing in Eurovision, and the first since Sonia in 1993 to have had a no. 1 at all before entering the competition. The song "I Can" premiered on 11 March 2011, on The Graham Norton Show.

Why is blue so popular? ›

Instead, we associate blue largely with the sky and water (as well as more mundane, but neutral-to-positive, items such as ballpoint pens and blue jeans), raising the average preference for blue higher than the remainder of the rainbow.

Why is monochrome so popular? ›

It is impactful in its simplicity.

Although a monochromatic scale can focus the eye on the complexity of a work, black and white artwork can also be impactful in its simplicity and no artist seems to achieve this more successfully than British fine art photographer David Yarrow.

When did monochrome become popular? ›

Three decades later and the 1960s went monocrazy. This was the decade of fashion revolution, when youngsters could make and wear what they wanted. It was a decade dying for the 'mod' look, the statement, anything bold, sharp and minimalist.

Did Yves Klein invent a color? ›

In fact, his chromatic devotion was so profound that in 1960 he patented a colour of his own invention, which he called International Klein Blue. Born in 1928 with two painters for parents, Klein always displayed a penchant for showmanship.

Can you use Yves Klein blue? ›

If you're looking to bring a bit of Yves Klein into your home, we have some good news for you. Thanks to the high-end decorative paint company Ressource, you can now paint your walls with a color very close to the French artist's International Klein Blue, and it won't cost you seven figures at auction.

How was Klein blue created? ›

The process included treatment of the canvas with a milk protein casein that helped in adherence of the paint, over which Klein would apply blue paint mixed with a fixative. When dried, the pigment on the piece seems to hover over its surface, creating an illusion of a velvety texture and depth.

How did Yves Klein paint? ›

His Paint Brushes were Alive

In 1960, Yves Klein turned the art world upside down with his Anthropometry works, which were produced in a completely original way. Klein would cover female models in his IKB paint, and then have his “living brushes” lie or drag themselves across the canvas to create images.

What does blue symbolize in paintings? ›

In addition to representing trust, loyalty, and faith, blue is also often associated with calmness, and tranquillity.

Which artist was famous for a Blue Period? ›

Blue Period of Pablo Picasso. Between 1901 and mid-1904, when blue was the predominant colour in his paintings, Picasso moved back and forth between Barcelona and Paris, taking material for his work from one place to the other.

Who named the blue color? ›

Also known as Berliner Blau, Prussian blue was discovered accidentally by German dye-maker Johann Jacob Diesbach. In fact, Diesbach was working on creating a new red, however, one of his materials—potash—had come into contact with animal blood.

When did blue become popular? ›

By 1710 it was being used by the French painter Antoine Watteau, and later his successor Nicolas Lancret. It became immensely popular for the manufacture of wallpaper, and in the 19th century was widely used by French impressionist painters.

What famous things are blue? ›

Many of the things in the list above have blue variants but aren't always blue.
84 Things That Are Blue.
LakesLapis Lazuli
37 more rows
30 Oct 2021

What is a fact about blue? ›

Blue is the rarest colour in nature

Blue is the world's favourite colour – it's above us in the sky and we are surrounded by blue seas and ocean and yet when it comes to blue in nature, it's the rarest colour.

What is the famous color in the world? ›

A worldwide survey reveals that blue is the most popular colour in 10 countries across four continents – including China.

What is the most popular blue? ›

Sky blue. Easily one of the most popular blue hues, sky blue is a soft and relaxing color, intended to represent the infinite possibilities of the sky. This is a color seen frequently in rooms around homes, as well as in the branding world, as a tool for conveying credibility and reliability.

What is the famous color? ›

The most popular color in the world is blue. The second favorite colors are red and green, followed by orange, brown and purple. Yellow is the least favorite color, preferred by only five percent of people.

What is color in art? ›

What is Color? Color is a basic element of art that involves light. It is produced when light waves (wavelength) strike an object and are reflected into our eyes. Each light wave has a distinct color. Objects appear to be different colors because some wavelengths are absorbed while others are reflected or transmitted.

What color is created by adding black? ›

Shade. A shade is created when you add black to a color and darken it.

What is the value in art? ›

What is Value in Art? Definition and Examples. Defined as one of the seven elements of art, next to line, shape, space, form, texture, and color, the value in art is a quality or a value of light and dark of a certain shade or tone. This art element is best understood if visualized as a scale or a gradient.

What is it called when you wear all the same color? ›

What is Monochromatic? The word “monochromatic” breaks down into two pieces: “mono” meaning single and “chromatic” meaning color. So a monochromatic outfit would consist of pieces of one color. This doesn't mean that you would only wear solid black or solid red from head to toe.

Is monochrome all one color? ›

"Monochrome means one color, so in relation to art, a monochrome artwork is one that includes only one color." That totally makes sense, especially when you break the meaning of the word down from its Greek roots: Mono= “one” Chrome= “color”

Why do artists use monochromatic colors? ›

Monochromatic paintings help beginners focus on an art as a whole. This, in turn, helps them avoid glaring issues. Also, the role of light and dark enables an artist to define form and create a piece. Color plays a different story.

Who invented sky blue color? ›

This colour was formulated by Crayola in 1958. "Sky blue" appears in the 32, 48, 64, 96 and 120 packs of crayons.

Who invented blue pigment? ›

The first blue pigment was azurite, a natural mineral. Soon thereafter, Egyptians manufactured Egyptian blue, which quickly spread throughout the ancient world. During the Middle Ages, the recipe for Egyptian blue was lost, so azurite and expensive ultramarine from Afghanistan were the only sources of blue available.

Who invented color paint? ›

The opening up of trade routes in the 18th century, coupled with advances in technology and science, allowed for greater experimentation. In 1704, the German colour maker Johann Jacob Diesbach created Prussian blue by accident in his laboratory. This became the first chemically synthesised colour.

How much did Blue monochrome sell for? ›

Sold for $17,400,000. Another monochrome that offers some perspective on the larger one above. This piece was sold in 2008 for $17.4 million at Sotheby's New York. At 17.67 square-feet of space, it'll take just $20.90 of Ressource's pigment to recreate.

How do you use aqua blue? ›

Morning and night, dispense up to half a pump of AquaBlur onto fingertip. Gently smooth over closed eye including lashes, brows, lids and undereye contour. Once product is fully absorbed, follow with skincare and makeup application.

What did the artist of Blue Period do? ›

The Blue Period (Spanish: Período Azul) is a term used to define the works produced by Spanish painter Pablo Picasso between 1901 and 1904 when he painted essentially monochromatic paintings in shades of blue and blue-green, only occasionally warmed by other colors.

Who painted the blue square? ›

This may be just a blue square to you. But it is actually a picture painted with a very special blue. This blue was invented by artist Yves Klein and he called it International Klein Blue or IKB for short. This is number 79 of about 200 paintings he made using IKB.

Who painted the blue canvas? ›

Yves Klein

Where does blue dye originally come from? ›

Blue No. 1 is called "brilliant blue" and, as is typical of modern dyes, was originally derived from coal tar, although most manufacturers now make it from an oil base. Blue No. 2, or "indigotine," on the other hand, is a synthetic version of the plant-based indigo that has a long history as a textile dye.

Is Klein a color? ›

International Klein Blue (IKB) is a deep blue hue first mixed by the French artist Yves Klein. IKB's visual impact comes from its heavy reliance on ultramarine, as well as Klein's often thick and textured application of paint to canvas.

What did Yves Klein call his models? ›

People have criticised the work since, the way that he used naked female models as instruments in his work and they were called living brushes at the time. Elena and the participants said that they felt he treated them entirely respectfully as collaborators.

Who paint apple and pears? ›


When was blue first used in art? ›

The first blue color was produced by ancient Egyptians in 2200 B.C. in an effort to create a permanent pigment that could be applied to a variety of surfaces.

What power does blue represent? ›

Blue represents both the sky and the sea, and is associated with open spaces, freedom, intuition, imagination, expansiveness, inspiration, and sensitivity. Blue also represents meanings of depth, trust, loyalty, sincerity, wisdom, confidence, stability, faith, heaven, and intelligence.

What mood is blue in art? ›

In Western cultures, blue is generally considered a calming, serene color because it is associated with natural elements like water or sky. It has also been linked to lower blood pressure and slower respiration, which is why many interior designers choose it for rooms where clients spend a significant amount of time.

Is Blue Period inappropriate? ›

Parents need to know that in Blue Period, an anime series based on a manga comic series in Japan, teens smoke and drink heavily. Teen male characters have some aggressive attitudes toward female characters, many of which are sexualized or skew to "innocent" depictions.

Who was the leading artist Why did he create the Blue Period? ›

Pablo Picasso's Blue Period - 1901 to 1904

While back in 1903, he had produced his Blue Period works, which seemed to reflect his experience of relative poverty and instability, depicting beggars, street urchins, the old and frail and the blind.

Does Netflix have Blue Period? ›

Bored with life, popular high schooler Yatora Yaguchi jumps into the beautiful yet unrelenting world of art after finding inspiration in a painting. Watch all you want.

What was the first color named? ›

In almost every country red seems to have been the first colour (other than black and white) to be named with its symbolic appeal often drawn from blood, evoking strength, virility and fertility.

What was the first color? ›

The team of researchers discovered bright pink pigment in rocks taken from deep beneath the Sahara in Africa. The pigment was dated at 1.1 billion years old, making it the oldest color on geological record.

Why is blue a unique color? ›

Blue is a tough color to spot in nature because there is no naturally occurring blue compound to color things blue. This is why blue rocks and minerals are so rare and why it was so pricey back when the Egyptians began mining the vibrant blue lapis lazuli mineral thousands of years ago.

Why is Prussian blue so popular? ›

Still, Prussian blue remained one of the most durable pigments on the market, with most artists being willing to forgo the risk in order to achieve the cool intensity it offered. Its popularity was such that it even permeated Japan's closed borders, proving a major inspiration for Katsushika Hokusai.

Who is the best painter in blue period? ›

Probably the most iconic work of art from the Blue Period is The Old Guitarist, an oil painting Picasso created in late 1903 – early 1904.

When was Prussian blue popular? ›

Brief description of Prussian blue:

It's an Iron-hexacyanoferrate accidentally formed while experimenting with the oxidation of iron. The pigment was available to artists by 1724 and was extremely popular throghout the three centuries since its discovery.

Who uses Prussian blue stain? ›

Who Uses Prussian Blue Stain? This stain is used widely for both diagnostic and research purposes. In diagnostic labs, PB is widely used by pathologists to detect the presence of iron in biopsy specimens, especially in tissues such as bone marrow and spleen.

What is Prussian blue staining used for? ›

Product overview. Iron Stain Kit (Prussian Blue stain) ab150674 is intended for use in the detection of ferric iron in tissues, blood smears, or bone marrow smears. Ferric iron is normally found in small amounts in bone marrow and the spleen. Abnormally large deposits may be seen in hemochromatosis and hemosiderosis.

Why was this color called Prussian blue? ›

The name Prussian blue originated in the 18th century, when the compound was used to dye the uniform coats for the Prussian army. Over the years, the pigment acquired several other “blue” names, including Berlin, Parisian, and Turnbull's blue.

Why was the Blue Period so important? ›

Hailed as a defining moment in Pablo Picasso's artistic career, The Blue Period (1901-1904) was inspired by Picasso's own emotional turmoil and financial destitution.

Who is the No 1 painter in the world now? ›

As a result, it is no surprise and well-deserved to have Gerhard Richter as our number one most famous painter today.

Why is blue unique? ›

But when it comes to nature, blue is very rare. Less than 1 in 10 plants have blue flowers and far fewer animals are blue. So why is that? Part of the reason is that there isn't really a true blue colour or pigment in nature and both plants and animals have to perform tricks of the light to appear blue.

When was the color blue first used? ›

The Ancient Egyptians created the first blue pigment around 2,200 B.C. They heated a mixture of sand, ground limestone and copper-containing minerals like malachite or azurite at a high temperature.

When did people start using blue? ›

About 6,000 years ago, humans began to develop blue colorants. Lapis, a semiprecious stone mined in Afghanistan, became highly prized among the Egyptians. They adored the bright blue color of this mineral.

When was blue paint first used? ›

Egyptian blue—the first color to be synthetically produced—was invented in Ancient Egypt around 2,200 B.C., around the same time the Great Pyramids were built.


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