Yves Klein Blue

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History of Yves Klein Blue

International Klein Blue (IKB) was developed by Yves Klein in collaboration with Edouard Adam, a Parisian art paint supplier whose shop is still in business on the Boulevard Edgar- Quinet in Montparnasse.[1] The uniqueness of IKB does not derive from the ultramarine pigment, but rather from the matte, synthetic resin binder in which the colour is suspended, and which allows the pigment to maintain as much of its original qualities and intensity of colour as possible.[2] The synthetic resin used in the binder is a polyvinyl acetate developed and marketed at the time under the name Rhodopas M or M60A by the French pharmaceutical company Rhône-Poulenc.[3] Adam still sells the binder under the name “Médium Adam 25”.[1]
In May 1960, Klein deposited a Soleau envelope, registering the paint formula under the name International Klein Blue (IKB) at the Institut national de la propriété industrielle (INPI),[2] but he never patented IKB. Only valid under French law, an enveloppe Soleau registers the date of invention, according to the depositor, prior to any legal patent application. The copy held by the INPI was destroyed in 1965. Klein’s own copy, which the INPI returned to him duly stamped, is still extant.[4]
In March 1960, Klein patented a method by which he was able to distance himself from the physical creation of his paintings by remotely directing models covered in the colour.[5]

Although Klein had worked with blue extensively in his earlier career, it was not until 1958 that he used it as the central component of a piece (the colour effectively becoming the art). Klein embarked on a series of monochromatic works using IKB as the central theme. This included performance art where Klein painted models’ naked bodies and had them walk, roll and sprawl upon blank canvases as well as more conventional single-colour canvases.[6] Six sculptures by Klein in the Musiktheater im Revier, Gelsenkirchen, Germany, are executed in IKB.

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Klein with his sculpture Blue Globe in his Paris atelier 1961
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Yves Klein, Untitled Anthropometry (ANT 7), dry pigment and synthetic resin Yves Klein, Untitled Blue Monochrome (IKB 67), on paper, 1960
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Yves Klein, Untitled Blue Monochrome (IKB 67), on paper, 1960 dry pigment and synthetic resin on gauze
Klein with his sculpture Blue Globe in his Paris atelier 1961
mounted on panel, 1959