b. Nice, France, 28 April 1928 – d. Paris, France, 6 June 1962
In 1954, following a career in judo, Yves Klein turned to art and never looked back. His research was focused on the monochrome, and stemmed from a desire to give primacy to colour. In 1957, inspired by his discovery of Giotto’s skies in Assisi, he started focussing his work on the colour blue, and in 1960, filed a patent for his specific shade of ultramarine blue paint – the IKB (International Klein Blue) – at the French National Institute of Intellectual Property. In the same year, he and art critic Pierre Restany, became two of the founders of Nouveau Réalisme. For Klein, the sponge – the painter’s tool – became a material whose irregular surface accentuated the intensity of colour.
A major exhibition dedicated to his work was held at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in 2005 and then at the Pompidou Centre in Paris in 2006-2007. Klein’s work is featured in some of the greatest museums in the world including the MoMA in New York, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reine Sofía in Madrid, the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, and the Tate in London.