My Name is Klein, Yves Klein (International Klein Bond)
On Wednesday morning, while at Fnac, a small book caught my attention. I picked it up. It said "Yves Klein, L'aventure monochrome". On the cover, a suited man was walking straight ahead, his eyes staring at me. Behind the man there was a white and empty background. His walking triggered a vague and undefined association, as if I knew him from somewhere. I went through the first pages – it looked interesting – but then I left the book and moved on.
On that same evening, I visited Centre Georges Pompidou. Surprisingly, the current exposition was of no other than Yves, Le Monochrome.This was one of the best expositions I've seen in years; probably - the best I have ever seen.
Klein is a master of the Medium, of the Form: Monochrome (Colors), Monotone (Sounds), Writing: Preface without a Text (=pure form), Still Images, Moving Images etc. As such, he speaks directly to our Zeitgeist, that which is obsessed with the (plat)Form, with the Plat(o)form.
But when I asked my friend Iphigenia, who's a curator, "why now?", she said that my question was off-place: Klein succeeded so well in creating his myth (I assume that his unexpected death from heart attack at the age of 34 was helpful too) that he has never stopped being relevant. In other words, Klein always speaks directly to the current Zeitgeist.
Klein: “The painter has only to create one masterpiece, himself, constantly”.
Back to my initial, unclear, vague, undefined sensation of familiarity with this man: after visiting the exhibition and seeing the paintings, the pictures, the texts and the many films that Klein directed, where he is seen working in his studio with his models - well, after seeing all that I understood why I thought I've met him before.
Yves Klein is Sean Connery, is James Bond; James Bond is Yves Klein. I don't know much about this juxtaposition; the details I currently have are only that Dr. No, the first in the Bond series, was released on the same year that Klein died, 1962, and that Goldfinger (1964) is full of Kleinicisme.
So without further ado - "International Klein Bond", an annotated collage-homage to Klein, Yves Klein.
(To see high resolution pictures, click on each picture, then click again on the "All Sizes" icon which is located just above the picture)
IKB05 is a juxtaposition of three Klein's Monochromes - the Gold, the Blue and the Rose, which are the fundamental colors in Klein’s theory of matter. Whatever changes is fire, and the fire consists of three distinguished colors: Gold, Blue and Rose.
The poster of Dr. No (1962), the first Bond film, shows Bond and his women, all in monochromes, and not just any monochromes but Klein’s Gold, Blue and Rose.
Klein was always surrounded by women – "the model that loved me". He used his models as a human paint brush. They loved him to the point that one model said that she would die knowing that a part of her would remain in one of Klein’s paintings.
Gold, Fire, Goldfinger. Klein created his fire paintings using a huge gas gun. He first positioned a model in front of a large canvas. He water-sprayed her body and its surrounding, and then shoot the fire gun until the contours of the model’s body became apparent. In IKB09 we can see Klein's Gold and the traces of the model's body, in juxtaposition with the poster of Goldfinger (1964).
In IKB75 we see Klein in action. As mentioned earlier, Klein was actively creating his own myth, filming himself working in his studio, always extremely well dressed, with a black suit and everything.
Here Klein is painting/shooting with fire using a magnum gas gun. In Goldfinger, the symbol of the magnum gun is omnipresent in the form of a huge, vicious laser gun.
This is Klein’s autograph - his famous picture. Jumping from the balcony of his apartment to the void beneath. On the right, a picture of a James Bond' stunt performing the jump into the void.
In IKB93 Klein's Anthropometry is presented, i.e. the usage of the body as a living, organic paint brush. In many of his films Klein is seen spreading paint and water over the bodies of his models. Anthropometry is also one of Goldfinger's prominent symbols, with Jill Masterson's dead body painted in gold.
"Since Dr. No, each film has begun with what is known as the James Bond gun barrel sequence, which introduces Agent 007. Appearing to be filmed through a rifled gun barrel, as if from a bullet's perspective, the scene is a side-on view of Bond walking, then quickly turning and shooting.", James Bond, Wikipedia
In IKB119 another great coincidence. While searching for Sean Connery's pictures, a strange result appeared: a Klein’s Blue with the title: Sir Sean Connery.
I can go on with it, but I rather stop now. I'm not sure that Paris is well worth a Mass, but I'm convinced that Yves Klein is worth the visit.
this is most certainly a masterpiece. I was reading through it keeping in mind your accidental rendezvous with the picture on the book cover. Thinking I must get to know this Klein (who seems to be not so klein at all) when to my amazement, scrolling down revealed the “Leap into the void” this picture hangs on my office wall for years. I had no idea who it was yet I chose to have it in front of me. As I think I said last time we talked - nothing is accidental
"The uncertainty is what holds the story together” DJ Spooky, Rhythm Science.
Thanks for your comment, Amir.
By 11:57 PM, at
this was an extreemely interesting essay. I was compelled to let you know. I have just discovered his art as a 27 year art student. im so glad i did. And reading this essay was a lot of fun.
Thank you, dear Anonymous, for your kind comment. I hope you could make it to the exhibition in Paris.
By 6:24 PM, at
i have never seen his work in person!! only in books sadly....also I never write on blogs but your essay was soo damn facinating. I have to see his work in person and now im intrigued by your writting as well, i will most definetly have to check out more of your work.
My name is Dorothy, i would love to pass on my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, would it be possible to ask you personally about your work or do you prefer to communicate with strangers through the blog? thanks for your time!
Hello Muli - this was really interesting! Thanks for sharing it.
I live in the US and am trying to find out more about Yves Klein. Do you know if the Galerie International d'Art Contemporain (where he first performed the Monotone Symphony with the nude models) is still open and showing work?