International Klein BlueBetween 1957 and his death in 1962, artist Yves Klein painted just short of 200 works using only one color—his own.

International Klein BlueBetween 1957 and his death in 1962, artist Yves Klein painted just short of 200 works using only one color—his own.

Issue 22

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Arts & Culture

International Klein Blue is one of the few colors you never forget seeing for the first time, like the red shock of fresh blood or the shine of chrome or the lurid pink of a post-thunderstorm sunset. IKB looks like it would set off a Geiger counter—a hot, glowing, Aegean blue that seems on the verge of reaching critical mass. It is a color patented by the French painter Yves Klein (1928–1962), the short-lived provocateur who dabbled in photography and sculpture and Duchamp-inspired frivolities, but who is known primarily —unfairly, capitalistically, pick your adverb—for his monochromatic canvases saturated in IKB.

Klein’s Nouveau Réalisme movement claimed to “appropriate” reality by expanding the definition of portraiture. Theirs was a representation of the world in forml...

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