Yves Klein

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Yves Klein
Yves Klein with Afghan Hound c. 1959 photo by Charles Kilp

Yves Klein with Afghan Hound c. 1959

Born: 04/28/1928
Location: Nice, France
Died: 06/06/1962
Age: 34
Movements Nouveau Realisme
Nationality French
Expertise Painting
Performance Art

Born in 1928 in Nice, Yves Klein was a notable French artist known for his innovative blue monochrome artworks. He was also widely acclaimed for his bold experiments to discover new techniques in expressing art.

Personal life

Yves Klein’s parents were painters. His father specialized in figurative painting while his mother worked as a well-known abstract painter. He had a remarkable passion for judo and strongly aspired to master the martial art. Judo was Klein’s first memorable experience with spiritual space that intensified his desire for art. He married Rotraut Uecker in 1962 at Saint-Nicholas-des-Champs in Paris. At the relatively young age of thirty-four, Klein died in 1962 due to consecutive heart attacks, a few months before his son was born.


Yves Klein started to formulate his first theories on monochrome painting sometime in the late 1940s. He lived in Japan from 1952 to 1953 and mastered judo. He had an immense interest in judo and even published a book regarding the foundations of the martial art but eventually failed to accomplish his plan of heading the French Judo Federation. He started to concentrate on establishing himself as an artist in 1954 upon settling permanently in Paris. In the same year, Klein revealed his first public gesture by publishing Haguenault Peintures and Yves Peintures, which were his collections of monochromes. Klein intended these artworks to question the illusion in art. The painting collections were exhibited at the Club des Solitaires and the Collette Allendy gallery. Klein’s Blue Period or Epoque Bleue started in 1957 when he displayed Proposte Monocrome, Epoca Bluin Milan. The collection consisted of eleven works painted in ultramarine blue but not framed. This was the first time that Klein exhibited a room full only of blue monochromes. He held another exhibition of this monochrome collection at Iris Clert in Paris. The event was celebrated by releasing 1,001 blue balloons into the sky. Klein held various exhibitions of his monochrome art and also performed audacious experiments using fire painting, the living brushes technique, and the immaterial style which presents a completely empty room to the audience to affirm the presence of pictorial sensibility in its raw material state. One of his successful patents is the blue formula he developed named International Klein Blue. Klein’s biggest retrospective was the exhibit Yves Klein: Monochrome und Feuer, which featured monochromes, a fire painting, architectural drawings, and an immaterial space which is still included in the museum’s permanent collection. In 1960, Klein, Pierre Restany, and several other members founded the Nouveaux Realistes that aimed to promote New Realism.

Fun Facts

  • Klein was born in his maternal grandparents’ home.
  • Klein sold his first Zone of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility for 20 grams of fine gold, and later on, he threw the gold powder into the air and made the buyer destroy the receipt. This transaction conveyed Klein’s idea of immaterial sensibility.
  • Klein suffered a heart attack while attending the 1962 Cannes Film Festival wherein the film Mondo Cane featured him as an artist.

Related Artists


Some Examples of Yves Klein’s Artwork

Anthropometrie (ANT 130) 1960 artwork by Yves Klein

Anthropometrie (ANT 130) 1960

Untitled Blue Monochrome c. 1961 (IKB73) artwork by Yves Klein

Untitled Blue Monochrome c. 1961 (IKB73)

Untitled Anthropometry c. 1960 (ANT101) artwork by Yves Klein

Untitled Anthropometry c. 1960 (ANT101)