A blue-obsessed artist loved the Ultramarine color so much, he patented it and gave it his name: Yves Klein (1928-1968) is famous for his monochrome paintings in International Klein Blue (IKB), as well as his prolific work and research on this color. 

Anything Blue review – Yves Klein, the blue lover

Why Blue was so unique to him? Artsy gives us the answer, and points us to FC1, a short movie he made at the end of his career, what Christie’s describes as his ultimate masterpiece. While the video is a true ode to Blue, it also shows Klein painting his famous blue nudes. This is our first extract below.

In our second extract, Art Expert Sophie Howard (Tate Museum, UK) depicts one of his work and explains how the painter would give life, presence and texture to his favorite color. His fans also remember him for his unusual exhibition openings, such as the release of a thousand of blue baloons, or the blue cocktails served to visitors.

So: why blue? 


Blue…is beyond dimensions, whereas the other colors are not,’ he said. All colors arouse specific ideas, while blue suggests at most the sea and the sky; and they, after all, are in actual, visible nature what is most abstract.’

Starting in the mid-1950s, Klein made retinal blue monochromes (which would prove cornerstones of Minimalism) and the pigment would also feature prominently in his Anthropometry paintings, for which Klein smeared nude women with blue pigment and used them as human brushes on canvas, sometimes in elaborate public performances.

Source: Yves Klein’s biography @Artsy

Buy Yves Klein’s artwork @Artsy

 Read Christie’s article ‘The Making of an Icon: Yves Klein’s FC1’ @Arsty


‘IKB 79, 1959, Yves Klein

The letters IKB stand for International Klein Blue, a distinctive ultramarine which Klein registered as a trademark colour in 1957.


IKB - Anything Blue

IKB – Anything Blue

He considered that this colour had a quality close to pure space and he associated it with immaterial values beyond what can be seen or touched.

The announcement card for his one-man exhibition at the Galleria Apollinaire, Milan in 1957 described IKB as ‘a Blue in itself, disengaged from all functional justification’ […]. By this time Klein had arrived at a means of painting in which the incandescence of IKB could be maximised.

First he stretched his canvas or cotton scrim over a wooden backing, which had been treated with a milk protein called casein. This assisted the adherence of the paint when it was applied with a roller. Then he applied an industrial blue paint, similar to gouache, which he mixed with a highly volatile fixative.

When the paint dried the pigment appeared to hover over the surface of the canvas creating a rich velvety texture and an unusual appearance of depth.

Artist: Yves Klein 1928-1962
Date: 1959
Classification: relief
Medium: Paint on canvas on polywood
Dimensions: object: 1397 x 1197 x 32 mm
Purchased 1972

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2014

IKB 79, 1959, Yves Klein by Sophie Howarth, April 2000 @Tate

Anthropométrie, Yves Klein - Anything Blue

Anthropométrie, Yves Klein – Anything Blue


Anthropométrie, Yves Klein - Anything Blue

Anthropométrie, Yves Klein – Anything Blue