Feeling Blue: Yves Klein at Blenheim Palace

Yves Klein’s ultramarine works of art add a touch of avant-garde to the baroque interiors of Blenheim Palace, in England, in an exhibition displaying more than fifty of the French artist’s works.

Coca Cola red, Tiffany blue, Cadbury purple, Millennial pink. A singular color tone might redefine an age, create a cultural identity, perhaps even spark a revolution. Furthermore, it can lay the foundations for an entire artistic career. That is the story of Yves Klein Blue. A stunning ultramarine, surfacing in the sixties in Paris, as a result of a single artist’s radical vision.

When in 1957, Klein gone to look at the painted azure skies of Renaissance frescoes in Assisi, the history of the color blue was transformed forever. Three years later, Klein registered his very own formulation of ultramarine under the name International Klein Blue (IKB) – establishing his own career and stirring ripples of artistic development for future generations.

Organised by the Blenheim Art Foundation in cooperation with the artist’s estate, Yves Klein at Blenheim Palace is exploring the ideas of beauty, sensibility and the sublime in the 20th century artist’s works.

Having over 50 pieces in the exhibit, this display is the largest show of Klein’s work in the United Kingdom thus far. A large-scale pigment installation in Klein’s unique International Klein Blue appears, in addition to a range of Klein’s Monochrome Paintings, between the 18th-century baroque surroundings of the palace’s Great Hall and principal rooms. The event additionally includes a selection of works from Klein’s Anthropometry series, for which the artist used models as ‘living brushes’ to make marks on the canvas before an audience, along with Fire Paintings and Klein’s later works in gold. Collectively, the these artworks uncover the numerous ways in which Klein combined traditional artistic mediums and imagery with dynamic techniques and performance, removing the restrictions between process and artwork.

Located in Oxfordshire, England, Blenheim Palace used to be the residence of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. It is now open to the general public, the palace has provided a historic backdrop to exhibitions by artists like Ai Weiwei and Jenny Holzer.

Klein died from a heart attack in 1962, at the age of 35. Had he lived, he would have been 90 this year. Yves Klein at Blenheim Palace opened to the public on 18 July 2018, and runs until 7 October 2018.

Photography: Tom Lindboe