© Yves Klein / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY.

Yves Klein: International Klein Blue

In 1955, Yves Klein had his first public showing of his monochrome oil paintings, presenting a new and controversial form of abstraction that only featured a single color. At the Club des Solitaires in Paris, Klein adorned the walls with intensely vibrant canvases in colors like magenta, yellow, red, and blue. His objective, to fully reject representation in art, was completely misunderstood by the audience, even a year later when Klein presented these works again at Galerie Colette Allendy. These early viewers interpreted the works as a splashy new style of interior decorating. Klein, disappointed but not deterred, instead turned further toward monochrome, later calling the style an “open window to freedom.” He worked with a chemist to formulate and patent his very own color for these paintings—a strikingly saturated ultramarine blue, which he named International Klein Blue (IKB). Satisfied with the color’s ability to transcend the material world, Klein spent the rest of his career creating monochrome canvases, reliefs, sculptures, furniture, and even balloons in this signature color.

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