Relief éponge bleu (Kleine Nachtmusik) (Blue sponge relief, little night music), 1960

Yves Klein had his ultramarine blue patented in 1957 as “International Klein Blue” (IKB). With a binding agent he had developed himself, the French artist had found a way of retaining the powder-like consistency of the pigments and thus of increasing their chromatic intensity. Particularly in the monochrome mode – as we see here – the colour seems literally to reach out into the space in front of the canvas. What are the other effects of monochromaticity? It serves as a means of reduction – a provocative one. For the use of only one colour radically ends painting’s function as an illusionistic art form, turning it into a pure colour object.

Here Yves Klein used the blue for a dialectical interplay with nature: he fixed natural sponges to the surface and then covered them with blue paint. The organic material thus took on an artificial and foreign quality. By means of this alienation, the painter took possession of reality – and it is thus that reality became an element of the art of the Nouveaux Réalistes. At the same time, Yves Klein lent his coloured reality a new spiritual and metaphysical character.

© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018
Photo: Städel Museum – U. Edelmann – ARTOTHEK

Sponge, stone and pigments on wood and canvas
145 × 116 cm
Inv. No. SG 1254

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