Yves Klein. Blue Monochrome. 1961

Yves Klein

Blue Monochrome

1961

Medium
Dry pigment in synthetic polymer medium on cotton over plywood
Dimensions
6' 4 7/8" x 55 1/8" (195.1 x 140 cm)
Credit
The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection
Object number
618.1967
Copyright
© 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Department
Painting and Sculpture
This work is not on view.
Yves Klein has 18 works  online.
There are 2,378 paintings online.

Monochrome abstraction—the use of one color over an entire canvas—has been a strategy adopted by many painters wishing to challenge expectations of what an image can and should represent. Klein likened monochrome painting to an "open window to freedom." He worked with a chemist to develop his own particular brand of blue. Made from pure color pigment and a binding medium, it is called International Klein Blue. Klein adopted this hue as a means of evoking the immateriality and boundlessness of his own particular utopian vision of the world.

Gallery label from 2006

"Yves le monochrome," as Klein called himself, saw the monochrome painting as an "open window to freedom, as the possibility of being immersed in the immeasurable existence of color." Although he used a range of colors before concentrating on three—blue, gold, and a red he called Monopink—he is most associated with a blue he named International Klein Blue, which he arrived at by working with a chemist to develop a binding medium that could absorb pure color pigment without dimming its brilliant intensity. A student of Rosicrucianism and of Eastern religions, Klein entertained esoteric and spiritual ideas in which blue played a vital role as the color of infinity. Keenly aware that pigment is a substance of the earth, Klein also devised methods to make paintings using the other three elements—air (in the form of wind), water (in the form of rain), and fire.

Kazimir Malevich's Suprematist Composition: White on White (1918) is the major historical precedent for recent monochrome, but Klein argued that the Russian artist's primary concern had been with form—the square—rather than with color. As a result, Klein felt that "Malevich was actually standing before the infinite—I am in it."

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 242

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA's collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

If you would like to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA, please contact Scala Archives (all geographic locations) at firenze@scalarchives.com.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA's archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.