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Yves Klein (1928-1962)

 

 

 

1928

Yves Klein was born on April 28 in Nice, on rue Verdi, in the home of his maternal grandparents. His father, Fred Klein, Dutch of Indonesian extraction, was a figurative painter. His mother, née Marie Raymond from an Alpes-Maritimes family, was a well-known abstract painter.

 

 

 

1928-1946

Yves Klein followed his parents as they moved between their various residences. The Kleins lived in Paris but spent every summer at Cagnes-sur-Mer, where Marie Raymond’s sister Rose Raymond lived. Yves literally adored his aunt, who constantly doted on, assisted, and supported him. From the summer of 1939 until 1943, the Kleins lived in Cagnes-sur-Mer, situated in the non-occupied zone.

 

 

1947

During the summer, while registering at the judo club at the police headquarters, Yves Klein met Claude Pascal and Armand Fernandez. United by their enthusiasm for physical exercise, all three yearned for the "adventure" of travel, creation and spirituality. Judo was Yves’ first experience with "spiritual" space.

While on the beach in Nice, the three friends chose to "divide up the world" between them: Armand got the land and its riches, Claude Pascal got the air, and Yves got the sky and its infiniteness:

In 1946, while still an adolescent, I was to sign my name on the other side of the sky during a fantastic "realistico-imaginary" journey. That day, as I lay stretched upon the beach of Nice, I began to feel hatred for birds which flew back and forth across my blue sky, cloudless sky, because they tried to bore holes in my greatest and most beautiful work.

(Yves Klein, The Chelsea Hotel Manifesto, New York, 1961.)

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1947-1948

Yves Klein put together a project for a Monotone-Silence Symphony, a musical composition of a single tone — a work which was to sound what the monochrome was to painting.

During this period of condensation, around 47-48, I created a "monotone" symphony whose "theme" is what I wished my life to be.

(Yves Klein, Le Dépassement de la problématique de l’art, La Louvière, Belgium: Editions de Montbliart, 1959.)

 

 

 

1948

One day (in late 1947 or early 1948), recalls Claude Pascal, Yves arrived saying "look what I found." He showed me The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception. We tried to read the book and discovered that without a master we could not understand it. Ultimately, the two young men would discover in an old astrologer, Louis Cadeaux, a spiritual guide to the hermetic Rosicrucian doctrine.

Claude Pascal, quoted in Yves Klein (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1983).

The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, by Max Heindel, becomes an element of
study for Klein. In June, Yves Klein joins the Rosicrucian Fellowship of Oceanside, California, for a duration of approximately three years.

 

 

 

 

1948-1954

During the summer of 1948, Yves Klein visited Italy (Genoa, Portofino, Pisa, Rome, Capri, Naples…).

In November 1948, he left for eleven months of military service in Germany.

In late 1949, Claude Pascal and Yves Klein temporarily moved to London where they pursued their judo activities. Yves found work with the framemaker Robert Savage, who had worked on Fred Klein’s London exhibition in 1946. Yves did several monochromes on paper and cardboard, using pastel and gouache. His stint at Savage’s brought rigor into his art. Yves worked on gold-leaf gilding.

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1950

On April 4, Yves Klein and Claude Pascal left London for Ireland where they would remain until late August, at a horseback-riding club, Jockey Hall. Klein noted accounts of his activities and reflections on painting in a diary.

 

 

 

1951

On February 3, Yves Klein left for Madrid to study Spanish. Initially, Claude Pascal and Yves had planned an initiatory round-the-world tour, but health problems made it impossible for Pascal to take part.

In Spain, Klein signed up at a judo club, where he soon became a monitor — a function he was to hold regularly. He became very close to the school’s director, Fernando Franco de Sarabia, whose father was a publisher.

 

 

1952

During the summer, he made contacts in Japan, and, with help from his aunt, sailed for Yokohama, where he arrived on September 23. Shortly afterwards he moved to Tokyo, and, on October 9, registered at the Kodokan Institute, the country’s most prestigious judo center. He spent fifteen months in Japan, dividing his time between the Institute and the French lessons which he gave to American and Japanese students. During his stay, he wrote a book on judo in the hope of importing the mindset and techniques of the Japanese Katas into Europe. In 1953, Yves canceled his affiliation with the Rosicrucian Society in Oceanside.

Shortly after his return, he obtained the fourth dan in judo and thus reached the highest European level.

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1954

Back in Paris, he ran up against the suspicions of the professional and institutional judo milieu. His hopes of ultimately heading up the French Judo Federation were foiled, despite the publication in November of his book Les Fondements du Judo (The Foundations of Judo) with the Grasset publishing house. (A treatise on judo illustrated with photographs of Yves Klein and other judokas doing Katas). Yves decided to leave France for Spain at the invitation of the publisher Fernando Franco de Sarabia.

May: Yves Klein published Yves Peintures and Haguenault Peintures. These two collections of monochromes were put together and published in Fernando Franco de Sarabia’s engraving studios in Jaen, in the Madrid area. Pascal Claude’s preface was made up of black lines instead of text. The ten color plates consisted of single-colored rectangles, cut out in paper and accompanied by an indication of their size in millimeters. Each plate indicated a different place of creation: Madrid, Nice, Tokyo, Paris. In Haguenault Peintures, mention was also made of collections.

These two works constituted Yves’ first public gesture. Yves Peintures and Haguenault Peintures were artworks by means of which Yves Klein raised the question of illusion in art.

Yesterday night, Wednesday, we went into an abstract café… the abstractionists were there. They are easy to recognize because they give off an atmosphere of abstract painting, plus you see their paintings in their eyes. Maybe I’m delirious, but I have the impression I see things like that. In any event, we sat down with themÉ. Then we began speaking of the book Yves Peintures. Later, I went to get it from the car and I laid it down on the table. At the very first few pages the abstractionists’ eyes began to change. Their eyes lit up and in the depths, pure, beautiful single colors appeared.

Paris newspaper, dated January 13, 1955.

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1955

In late 1954, Klein left Spain for Paris.

In the spring of 1955, he proposed an orange monochrome, entitled Expression de l’univers de la couleur mine orange (Expression of the Universe Color Minium Orange) at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, reserved for abstract artists. The rectangular wooden panel was uniformly covered with matte orange paint, and was signed with the monogram YK, dated May 1955.

The monochrome was turned down by the jury, whose members explained the reasons behind their decision to Marie Raymond:

You know, it’s just really not sufficient, if Yves would accept to add at least a little line, or a dot, or even simply a spot of another color, then we could show it, but a single color, no, no, really, that’s not enough, it’s impossible!

(Yves Klein, L’Aventure monochrome, part one, op. cit.)

September: Yves Klein opened a judo school at 104 boulevard de Clichy, in Paris. He hung several monochromes in the space.



October 15: first public exhibition of Yves Peintures was held at the Club des Solitaires, in the private salons of the Lacoste publishing house. Yves exhibited the variously colored monochromes he had done, revealing his intentions in a text given to visitors to the exhibition:

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. My paintings, moreover, represent an idea of absolute unity in perfect serenity; an abstract idea represented abstractly, which has made me rank myself with the abstract painters. But I hasten to point out to you that the abstractionists do not understand it this way and they reproach me, among other things, for refusing to provoke relations between colorsÉ. I think that the color "yellow," for example, is quite sufficient in itself to render an atmosphere and a climate "beyond the thinkable"; what is more, the nuances of yellow are infinite, leaving the possibility to interpret it in many different ways.

For me, each nuance of a color is in some way an individual, a being who is not only from the same race as the base color, but who definitely possesses a distinct character and personal soul.… Nuances can be gentle, evil, violent, majestic, vulgar, calm, etc. In sum, each nuance of each color is definitely a "presence," a living being, an active force which is born and dies after having lived a sort of drama of the life of colors.

Yves Klein’s theoretical dimension was already evident in this first show. The decisive meeting with Pierre Restany at the Club des Solitaires was to be a crucial element in both Yves Kleins’ and Pierre Restany’s careers.

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1956

February 21-March 7: the exhibition Yves, Propositions Monochromes, was held at the Colette Allendy gallery, 67, rue de l’Assomption, in Paris. Pierre Restany wrote a radical and provocative text for the invitation card.

THE MINUTE OF TRUTH • To all those intoxicated with the machine and the big city, to the frenetics of rhythm, masturbated by reality, YVES offers a highly enriching cure of asthenic silence • Far beyond the outpourings of other worlds, already so imperceptible to our common sense of the reasonable, somewhat removed, no doubt, from what is called "the art of painting," at the level in any case of the most pure and essential emotional resonances, are these rigorously monochrome propositions: each of them sets off a visual field, a colored space, stripped of all graphic transcription and thus escaping from time’s duration, devoted to the unified expression of a certain tonality • Over the heads of that convenient decoy, the average public, the old habitués of art informel will agree on the definition of a "nothing," a senseless attempt to bring the dramatic (and now classic) adventure of Malevich’s square to higher power • But here there is precisely neither square nor white ground, and we are at the heart of the question. The aggressivity of these various propositions of color, projected beyond the wall, is only apparent • The author demands from the spectator that intense and fundamental minute of truth without which all poetry would be incommunicable. His presentations are strictly objective, he has fled even the slightest pretext of integrating these colored spaces to the architecture. One cannot suspect him of any attempt to decorate the wall • The beholder’s eye, so terribly contaminated by the exterior object, and only recently freed of the tyranny of representation, will search in vain for the unstable and elementary vibration, the sign whereby he is accustomed to recognize life, the essence and end of all creation… As though life were only movement • He is finally obliged to grasp the universal without the help of the gesture or the written trace, and then I ask this question: Where, at what degree of sensible evidence is situated the spiritual in art? • Has the omniscient dialectic made us into mechanisms of thought, incapable of any sincere focus? In the presence of these phenomena of pure contemplation, the answer will be given to you by the few men of goodwill who still survive. • Pierre Restany •



At the opening, Klein met Marcel Barillon de Murat, Knight of the Order of the Archers of Saint Sebastian, who invited him to join them. On March 11, Yves was dubbed knight of the Order of the Archers of Saint Sebastian in the Saint-Nicolas-des-Champs church in Paris. He adopted the motto: "For color! Against the line and drawing!"

August 4-31: Klein participates with Tinguel to, the 1st Festival of avant-garde art, presented at the Cité Radieuse of Le Corbusier in Marseille (Director: Jacques Polieri, arts section organized by Michel Ragon). He presents a Red Monochrome.

In 1956, Yves Klein met Iris Clert, who ran a small, twenty-square-meter gallery at 3, rue des Beaux-Arts, in Paris.

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1957

January 2-12: beginning of the Blue Period.

Yves Klein exhibited Proposte monocrome, epoca blu, at the Apollinaire gallery in Milan. Eleven works of identical format (78 x 56 cm), uniformly painted in ultramarine blue, were hung by a system of brackets at a distance of 20 cm from the wall, saturating the limited space of the small gallery. Because the blue panels were not framed, the color covered the outside edges of the chassis. For the first time, Klein presented an entire room of blue monochromes, one of which was purchased by Lucio Fontana.

n May 1957, Yves presented a double exhibition: one part at Iris Clert gallery: Yves, Propositions monochromes, May 10-25; the other part at the Colette Allendy gallery, Pigment pur, May 14-23.

At Iris Clert’s, Yves chose to present the Monochrome Propositions as he had shown them in Milan. The advent of the Blue Period was celebrated by the release of 1,001 blue balloons into the Paris sky during the inauguration. Klein referred to the gesture as a Sculpture aérostatique (Aerostatic Sculpture).

At Colette Allendy’s, Yves presented a series of works anticipating his future developments: sculptures, environments, tubs of pure pigment, paravents, the first fire painting Feux de Bengale-tableau de feu bleu d’une minute (M 41), and the first Immatériel: a room left entirely empty to testify to the presence of pictorial sensibility in the raw material state.

The single invitation card to the two shows included a text by Pierre Restany and a blue stamp made by Yves Klein.

The Schmela Gallery in Düsseldorf opened on May 31, 1957, with the exhibition Yves, Propositions monochromes.

Yves Klein applied to decorate the Gelsenkirchen Opera House, in the Ruhr, in Germany.

June 24-July 13: the exhibition Monochrome Propositions of Yves Klein was held at Gallery One in London. On 26 June, in the course of a debate in which Klein and Restany took part at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, a polemic of unforeseen proportions broke out. The English press echoed the scandal caused by the exhibition.

In Nice, during the summer, Yves met Rotraut Uecker, a young German artist who would become his assistant, and subsequently his wife.

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1958

January: Yves Klein was commissioned to decorate the new Gelsenkirchen Opera House. The construction work would last fourteen months. He would meet Norbert Kricke, Paul Dierkes, Robert Adams, Jean Tinguely, the whole project being overseen by the architect Werner Ruhnau.

In the spring, he moved to Paris, 14, rue Campagne-Première.

April: his first pilgrimage to the Saint Rita Monastery in Cascia in Italy.

April 26: at 11 PM, in the presence of Iris Clert, Yves Klein and the lighting director of the City of Paris experimentally lit up the Obelisk of Place de la Concorde in blue. Klein’s objective was to complete the inauguration of his upcoming show at Iris Clert’s, scheduled to open two days later, by illuminating the monument. Permission was ultimately refused by the Prefect.



April 28: opening of the exhibition La spécialisation de la sensibilité à l’état matière première en sensibilité picturale stabilisée, Le Vide (The Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Material State into Stabilized Pictorial Sensibility, The Void) — the pneumatic period — at Iris Clert gallery.

June 5: first experiments with the "living brushes" technique in Robert Godet’s apartment on Ile Saint-Louis in Paris. A great friend of Yves Klein, with whom he shared a genuine intellectual complicity, Robert Godet was a disciple of Gürdjieff, a judo instructor and occult philosopher. In the course of the evening, Yves covered in blue paint the naked body of a young woman, who, through a series of rotating movements, left her bodily prints on a sheet of paper set on the floor, until the support was fully saturated. The result was a blue monochrome.

In the autumn, Yves traveled to Cascia for the second time, with his aunt Rose, in order to thank Saint Rita for having been awarded the Gelsenkirchen commission. He donated a blue monochrome to the monastery.

October: Yves worked with Rotraut on the Gelsenkirchen work site. It was at this time that he became fully aware of the sensible potential of sponges impregnated with blue pigment. In 1957, he had already presented several impregnated sponges at his exhibition at Colette Allendy’s, commenting on the work’s purpose as follows:

The Sculpture-Sponges

It was also on this occasion that I discovered the sponge. While working on my paintings in the studio, I sometimes used sponges. Very quickly they obviously became blue! One day I noticed the beauty of the blue in the sponge; in an instant this working instrument became raw material for me. It is the sponge’s extraordinary capacity to be impregnate itself with anything fluid that attracted me. Thanks to the wild living material of sponges, I was going to be able to do the portraits of the beholders of my monochromes, who, after having seen them, after having traveled through the blue of my paintings, come back totally impregnated in sensibility, like sponges.

Yves Klein

For the Gelsenkirchen Opera House — designed and decorated by an international team of artists and architects — Klein created six monumental pieces of foremost importance in his work: four blue, ten-meter-high relief-sponges (two for the long wall of the main hall, two for the coat-check on the lower level) and two seven-meter-long by twenty-meter blue monochromes, intended for the lateral walls of the main hall. The works were wire-reinforced plaster reliefs, covered over with natural sponges and spray-painted in IKB blue.

November 17: the exhibition in collaboration with Jean Tinguely, Vitesse pure et stabilité monochrome (Pure Speed and Monochrome Stability) opened at the Iris Clert gallery. Both artists devised works made up of metallic disks covered over in IKB, and set into motion by high-speed motors.

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1959

March 17: Klein took part in the exhibition Vision in Motion at the Hessenhuis in Antwerp.

In the spring, Yves worked with architect Claude Parent on his water and fire fountain project; he designed an aeromagnetic sculpture project.

May 29: Iris Clert presented an exhibition entitled Collaboration internationale entre artistes et architectes dans la réalisation du nouvel Opéra de Gelsenkirchen (International collaboration between artists and architects working on the new Gelsenkirchen Opera House project) and exhibited in her gallery the scale models made by the group who worked on the Opera House: Werner Ruhnau, Norbert Kricke, Jean Tinguely, Paul Dierkes, Robert Adams, and Yves Klein.

June 3 and 5: Yves Klein gave a lecture at the Sorbonne entitled L’évolution de l’art vers l’immatériel (Art’s Evolution Toward the Immaterial). Klein’s talk was followed by a talk by Werner Ruhnau.

I was to arrive in my development at an architecture of the air, because only there could I finally produce and stabilize pictorial sensibility in the raw material state. Until this point in still very precise architectonic space, I have been painting monochromes in the most enlightened manner possible; the still very material color sensibility must be reduced to a more pneumatic immaterial sensibility.

Werner Ruhnau, for his part, is certain that the architecture of today is underway toward the immaterialization of the cities of tomorrow. The suspended roofs and tent-constructions of Frei Otto and others are important steps in this direction. By using air and gases and sound as elements of architecture, this development can be carried ahead further. My walls of fire, my walls of water, like the roofs of air, are materials for the construction of a new architecture. With these three classical elements, fire, air, and water, the city of tomorrow will be constructed, flexible at last, spiritual and immaterial.

(Yves Klein, conférence de la Sorbonne, op. cit.)

June 15-30: exhibition Bas-reliefs dans une forêt d’éponges (Bas-reliefs in a sponge forest), at Iris Clert gallery, Paris.

October 2-25: at the first Paris Biennial, Pierre Restany presented a large-format monochrome in the selection of works proposed by a jury of young critics. Jean Tinguely, Raymond Hains, Jacques de la Villeglé, and François Dufrêne were also included in the selection. This was to be an essential step in the formation of the New Realist group.

October 16-November 22: Yves Klein took part in two exhibitions in Germany: Kunstsammler am Rhein und Ruhr: Malerei 1900-1959 at the Städtisches Museum in Leverkusen; and Dynamo 1 at Renate Boukes gallery, in Wiesbaden.

October 20-November 7: Yves Klein took part in the Works in Three Dimensions exhibition at Leo Castelli gallery in New York, with Chamberlain, Folett, Giles, Johns, Kohn, Marisol, Rauschenberg, and Scarpitta.

November 18: Yves Klein sold his painting Zone de Sensibilité Picturale Immatérielle (Zone of immaterial pictorial sensibility) to Peppino Palazzoli.

On December 7, he sold one to Jacques Kugel, and another to Paride Accetti; on December 8, he sold another to Alain Lemée.

December 15: opening of the Gelsenkirchen Opera House.

December: Yves Klein published Le Dépassement de la problématique de l’art (Overcoming the Problematic of Art) in Belgium (La Louvière: Editions de Montbliart).

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1960

January 4-February 1: Klein took part in the exhibition La nouvelle conception artistique (The new Conception of Art) at Azimut gallery in Milan, along with Breier, Castellani, Holweck, Mack, Manzoni, and Mavignier.

February: at the Antagonismes exhibition, organized by the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, Klein showed a Monogold frémissant (Quivering Monogold) and two Zones of immaterial pictorial sensibility.

Klein did the Monogolds between 1960 and 1961, integrating fine gold — both a precious and a symbolic material — into their composition. Certain Monogolds bring together series of rectangles assembled into grids; others are made up of mobile gold leaves affixed to a panel covered over in burnished gold, which quiver at the slightest breath; still others are concave reliefs of which the covering sheets of gold are painstakingly polished until they take on a genuine power of reflection.

February 23: at his home, in the presence of Pierre Restany, Yves Klein did imprints of Rotraut and Jacqueline who pressed the blue stamp of their bodies onto a large sheet of white paper fastened to the wall. The participants named the work Célébration d’une nouvelle Ere anthropométrique (Celebration of a New Anthropometric Period). With these imprints inscribed on a support, Klein sought to capture the marks of fleeting "states-moments of flesh."

March 9: Anthropométries de l’Epoque bleue (Anthropometries of the Blue Period), at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art, 253, rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. While the Monotone Symphony was being performed, Yves Klein had three nude models cover themselves in blue paint and affix their body prints on the white papers, laid out on the gallery walls and floor. A complex body language, staged by Klein himself, brought the figures to life in a sort of strange ballet, in which the actresses rolled and dragged their hands on the ground, before the audience’s eyes. The formally dressed audience, made up of numerous artists, collectors, and critics, was subsequently invited to take part in a general discussion, in which Georges Mathieu and Pierre Restany participated.

April: Klein took part in the exhibition Les Nouveaux Réalistes at Apollinaire gallery, in Milan, with Arman, Hains, Dufrêne, Villeglé, and Tinguely. In the preface to the catalogue, Pierre Restany used the expression "New Realism" for the first time:

What do we propose instead? The passionate adventure of the real perceived in itself and not through the prism of conceptual or imaginative transcription. What is its mark? The introduction of a sociological continuation of the essential phase of communication. Sociology comes to the assistance of consciousness and of chance, whether this be at the level of choice or of the tearing up of posters, of the allure of an object, of the household rubbish or scraps of the dining-room, of the unleashing of mechanical susceptibility, of the diffusion of sensibility beyond the limits of its perception…

At the stage, most essential in its urgency, of full affective expression and of the externalization of the individual creator, and through the naturally baroque appearance of certain experiences, we are on the way to a new realism of pure sensibility. There, to say the least, is one of the paths of the future.

(Pierre Restany, April 16, 1960, preface to the exhibition Les Nouveaux Réalistes, Apollinaire Gallery, Milan, May 1960.)

May 19: Klein registered the formula for the blue he had developed under the name International Klein Blue (IKB) and obtained a patent. Yves Klein’s formula included a certain amount "Rhodopas MA," made up of ethyl alcohol and ethyl acetate. By varying the concentration of the pigment and type of solvent, the paint could be applied with a brush, roller, or spray gun.

Summer: Yves Klein did his first Cosmogonies at Cagnes-sur-Mer, marks of states-moments of nature. A canvas covered in blue paint, fastened to the roof of his Citroën for the duration of the drive from Paris to Cagnes-sur-Mer, was subjected to the effects of wind, rain, and dust. During the hours on the road, the painting underwent the erosion of time and the elements. Yves did many more works of this kind, using the traces of reeds from the mouth of the Loup, soaking the canvas in the river after dying the water blue, etc.

October 11-November 13: Exhibition Yves Klein le Monochrome, Gallery Rive Droite, Paris, directed by Jean Larcade.

October 19: Yves Klein did Le Saut dans le vide (The Leap into the Void), at 3, rue Gentil-Bernard in Fontenay-aux-Roses, photographed by Harry Shunk and John Kender, who took a number of different shots. A rehearsal of the "leap" had already taken place on January 12 at Colette Allendy’s, rue de l’Assomption, in Paris.

October 27: Constitutive declaration of the New Realist group at Yves Klein’s home, 14, rue Campagne-Première, Paris.

The signatories were: Arman, Dufrêne, Hains, Yves Klein (Yves le Monochrome), Raysse, Spoerri, Tinguely, and Villeglé. César and Rotella were absent. Nine copies, handwritten by Restany, were signed by the artists present and handed out to each of the signatories (seven on blue monochrome paper, one on pink monochrome paper, and one on gold paper, the backgrounds done by Yves Klein).

October 28: Klein brought together Arman, Hains, Raysse, Restany, and Tinguely in order to produce a collective Anthropométrie suaire (Anthropometric Shroud). Through this gesture, Klein integrated the New Realists to his work.

November 16-December 15: Third Art Festival of Avant-Garde, Parc des expositions de la porte de Versailles, Paris (director Jacques Polieri). The exhibition opens November 18 in the American house (directed by Michel Ragon, with the assistance of Pierre Restany and Daniel Spoerri, presentation of Claude Parent). The two works of Yve kleins,Ci-gît l’espace and Anthropométrie collective des Nouveaux Réalistes, are damaged by an act of vandalism.

Sunday, November 27: As part of the theatrical representations of the festival, Yve Klein presents the Theatre of the void, "an ultimate form of theater that is a Sunday for everyone." The same day he releases in a few newsstands in Paris, Dimanche "le journal d’un seul jour" and he holds a press conference at the Rive Droite gallery.

By presenting Sunday, November 27, 1960, from 0:00 to 24:00, I present a holiday, a veritable spectacle of the void, at the culminating point of my theories. However, any other day of the week could have been used. The theater of operations for this conception of theater that I propose is not only the city, Paris, but also the country, the desert, the mountains, the very sky, and even the entire universe, why not?

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1961

January 14-February 26: the exhibition Yves Klein: Monochrome und Feuer (Yves Klein Monochrome and Fire) was held at the Museum Haus Lange in Krefeld, Germany, at the initiative of Doctor Paul Wember, director of the Krefeld Museum. It was Yves Klein’s largest retrospective. He showed his blue, pink, and gold monochromes, architecture drawings, Mur de feu (Wall of Fire), an immaterial space entitled Immaterielle Raum (Immaterial Space), which has since been part of the museum’s permanent collection. The Mur de feu outside was made up of fifty burners aligned in five rows of ten. When lit up in the darkness, the effect was spectacular. Upon closer inspection, the daisy-shaped rosettes revealed the decomposition of the colors which made up the flame: blue, gold, and pink. Not far from the Wall was the flame of the Sculpture de feu. On February 26, the day the exhibition ended, Klein did his first Fire paintings. A large sheet of paper or cardboard was exposed to the flames of the Bunsen burners, and bore the mark of the rosettes alone or of the rosettes along with the trace of La Sculpture de feu.

February: Yves Klein traveled to Cascia in Italy, to place an ex-voto in the Saint Rita Monastery. The object would only be rediscovered in 1980 in the Monastery’s storehouse of offerings.

April 11-29: the exhibition Yves Klein le Monochrome was held at Leo Castelli gallery in New York. Yves and Rotraut move into the Chelsea Hotel for two months. In the wake of mutual incomprehension between the public and the artists, Yves wrote The Chelsea Hotel Manifesto, Chelsea Hotel, New York, 1961.

May 17-June 10: Yves Klein took part in the first exhibition at J Gallery, in Paris, organized by Pierre Restany: A quarante degrés au-dessus de Dada (Forty Degrees above Dada), a New Realist show, with Arman, César, Hains, Tinguely, Villeglé, Dufrêne, Rotella, and Spoerri. Restany published a text of which Klein disapproved.

May 29-June 24: Yves Klein le Monochrome exhibition at Dwan gallery in Los Angeles.

June 30, Niki de Saint-Phalle’s exhibition, Feu à volonté (Fire at Will) opened at J Gallery in Paris.

July : exhibition Le Nouveau Réalisme à Paris et à New York at Galerie Rive Droite in Paris.

July 13-14: the Premier Festival du Nouveau Réalisme (First Festival of New Realism) was held at Muratore gallery in Nice and at the Roseland Abbey. The festival lasted until September.

July 17-18: Yves Klein staged anthropometry sessions in Paris which were filmed by Paolo Vavera, intended for Gualterio Jacopetti’s film, Mondo Cane, to be screened the following year at the Cannes Film Festival.

July 18-19: Klein did a number of Fire Paintings at the French Gas Company’s test center.

October 8: Klein, Raysse and Hains declare the dissolution of the New Realist group, following the manifesto published by Pierre Restany, during the exhibition A quarante degrés au-dessus de Dada.

November 21: exhibition of Yves Klein the Monochrome: Il nuovo realismo del colore, held at Apollinaire gallery, Milan.



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1962

Sunday, January 21: Yves Klein and Rotraut Uecker were married at the Saint-Nicolas-des-Champs church in Paris. Every aspect of the ceremony was meticulously orchestrated by Klein himself, with true concern for ritual. The invitation card was stamped with Yves Klein’s coat-of-arms (blazon of blue fields, horizontal stripes bearing the rose and the bee, the symbol of life through love and labor). The text was printed in three colors, blue, gold, and pink. A guard of honor, made up of knights of the Order of Saint Sebastian, welcomed the bride and groom as they left the church. The ceremony was followed by a reception at La Coupole, where the guests were served a blue cocktail. The party later moved over to Larry Rivers’ studio. That very day, Christo Javacheff began the immortalization of the event on canvas; but the painting itself, to which Yves Klein contributed, remains unfinished today. The blue sponge which was initially planned is still missing.

January-February: Klein began working on plaster casts of Arman, Martial Raysse, and Claude Pascal, with the intention of doing Relief-portraits of the New Realists. Yves Klein began by casting the body to knee level. He then planned to cast the sculptures in bronze and to pulverize blue pigment over the entire work. Only the Relief-portrait of Arman was entirely finished and cast in bronze.

January 26: transfer of a Zone of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility to Dino Buzzati, Paris.

February 4: transfer of a Zone of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility to Claude Pascal.

February 10: transfer of a Zone of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility to Michael Blankfort, Paris.

March: Klein did his first large Peintures de feu series at the French Gas Company’s Test Center, in La Plaine Saint-Denis, near Paris.

Stemming from his Cosmogonies and Anthropometries, Klein’s Fire Paintings were the mark of the "states-moments of fire." Klein used reinforced Swedish cardboard, which had the particularity of burning more slowly than commonly used materials. Moreover, he combined the action of pouring water onto the support with the action of the flames, such that the print of the flames included traces of the running water.

March 1: Klein did an Anthropometric shroud, the Store poème, with Arman, Claude Pascal and Pierre Restany, at his home. The work brought together Arman’s Object Traces, Klein’s Anthropometries, a prose poem by Claude Pascal, and a text by Pierre Restany.

March 7: at the exhibition Antagonismes ll: l’objet, at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, Klein presented scale models of the Architecture de l’air and of the Rocket pneumatique. It was Yves Klein’s conception of collaboration between art and industry. Roger Tallon provided Klein with assistance for the production of the Rocket pneumatique and the machinery for the scale model of the air roof. Above a diorama where nude figures moved about, nozzles blasted out a veritable blade of air, diverting the simulated rain. The scale model of the Rocket pneumatique was an object brought into motion by the pulsation of air; it was a vehicle of no return, intended for consumers of the immaterial, and destined to one day disappear into the void.



May 12: at the Cannes Festival, Klein attended the screening of Mondo Cane. He left utterly humiliated by the portrait done of him, which completely distorted his work. Unbeknownst to him, the sequence which was to have lasted twenty minutes was reduced to approximately five minutes; the Monotone-Silence Symphony, which began as planned on a D-major chord, was rapidly replaced by the soundtrack of some other tune. The blue-covered models were filmed making somewhat ridiculous lascivious gestures, bearing no relation whatsoever to the session of Anthropometries staged by Klein. The same evening, Yves showed the early signs of his first heart attack.

May 15: opening of the exhibition Donner à voir at the Creuze gallery, in Paris, for which Pierre Restany organized a hall of New Realists. Arman’s Portrait-relief was shown. Klein had another heart attack.

June 6 at 6 PM.: Yves Klein died at his home, 14, rue Campagne-Première, in Paris.

His son, Yves, was born in August in Nice.

Yves Klein is buried in the small cemetery at La Colle-sur-Loup (Alpes-Maritimes), beside Marie and Rose Raymond.

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