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Yves Klein (1928-1962)
Venus Bleue, 1962/1982
Dry blue pigment in synthetic resin on plaster
27 1/8 x 12 ½ x 9 7/8 inches
Courtesy of the H. Manes Art Foundation

This potent blue, IKB, was not the sea or sky of the Cote D’Azur, where Klein lived. He claimed it from the most intense core of fire, the source of heat. The darkened ultramarine, technically Rhodopas M60A thinned with ethanol and ethyl acetate to preserve luminescence, was concocted by the scientifically advanced artist with a Parisian color merchant and chemists at Rhone-Poulenc.  In 1957 Klein flamboyantly turned the blue monochrome into a yearlong, international cause celebre (not just in France but in Germany, Italy and the United States). This epoca blu was the launching point of a fantastical three-part leap into the “void” (his pet term) as daring as the theatrical swan dive he took from the roof of a townhouse on October 19, 1960 apparently into the street below. (Air-brushed from the whimsical photo of the feat, which left him with a sprained ankle, was his devoted crew of believers holding a net below to catch the “man in space.”)




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