(b Nice, France, April 28, 1928; d Paris, June 6, 1962) French painter. Klein wanted the viewer to undergo both a revelation of the senses and the mind in front of the intense blue field of his paintings. He believed that through meditation of the material, he could release the individual from the confines of the worldly and into the realm of transcendent experience. Blue was for Klein the color of the infinite and of the void - a color "beyond dimensions." He even gave his extreme tone of blue a patented trademark - International Klein Blue (IKB) - mixing the pure ultramarine with a synthetic resin so that it retained its powdery consistency and true brilliance. Klein selected gold, red, and especially the IKB, as colors that came closest to his vision of the immaterial and the infinite. With his monochromatic language, Klein aimed to stimulate independent sensations in the viewer, emancipated from the anchor of depiction. In this he fused the dual meaning of 'painting' (the application of pigment as opposed to the depiction of something); paint became the painting's subject.* If all this sounds somewhat esoteric, then it will come as no surprise that Klein was well initiated in the philosophies of Zen Buddhism, and had in fact initially begun his career as a promising judo champion. It was while working in a frame shop in London at the age of 22 in 1949 however that he first discovered the possibilities of monochrome painting. "I have found it!" he proclaimed, showing off some small monochrome gouaches to his amused friends. At last here was, "a means of painting that was against painting, against all the anxieties of life, against everything. It was creation, and creation was health." This revelation would dictate the rest of Klein's short career.** (Credit: *Christie’s, New York, Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, May 14, 2003, lot 39; **Christie’s, London, June 30, 1999, lot 552)
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