Yves Peintures: A Writing About Infinite Blue

Klein, Yves, 1928–1962. Yves peintures : 10 planches en couleurs / préface de Pascal Claude. Paris : Éditions Dilecta, [2006] (Paris : Dumas-Titoulet, 2006) Copy no. 450 of 650. Photo by Brooke Baldeschwiler

This post was originally posted on the Brooklyn Museum’s Tumblr page. {archived}

The Brooklyn Museum Library holds a copy of a very unique art book entitled Yves Peintures. It is a facsimile of a book created by Nouveau Realist artist Yves Klein, originally published in 1954, and is one of many objects that the museum’s library has on view in the Infinite Blue exhibition.

Yves Peintures is a limited edition publication that previews what Klein would come to produce later in his career, and evinces how clear his creative vision was early in his lifetime. It is a booklet that consists of a collection of monochrome plates of color, captioned with city names, dimensions, dates, and sometimes the artist’s name. Opening the work is a “preface” by Pascal Claude, which consists of several pages of simple black lines.

While the description above seems to indicate that the work is some kind of organized monograph, the captions for each color field in the work are actually quite ambiguous. It is not known whether the dimensions indicate inches, centimeters, millimeters, etc., and there is no way to know how each color field relates to its city. This ambiguity could be explained somewhat by Klein’s rejection of representation, and his interest in the infinite, however the work is inherently abstract in nature.

The intent of the artist in creating this book, and the meaning behind it, is unclear, and author Denys Riout, who wrote the postface published in the Brooklyn Museum Library’s copy, believes that Klein knew this, and how to use it to his advantage. What spiritual seed subsequently led Klein become focused on his own International Klein Blue, which he patented in France in 1960, is a mystery that Yves Peintures only begins to hint at.

I had left the visible, physical blue at the door, outside, in the street. The real blue was inside, the blue of the profundity of space, the blue of my kingdom, of our kingdom! …the immaterialisation of blue, the coloured space that cannot be seen but which we impregnate ourselves with… A space of blue sensibility within the frame of the white walls of the gallery.” — Yves Klein, 1958