Tate Liverpool is playing host to the UK’s first solo exhibition of the works of French artist Yves Klein (1928-62) in over 20 years, opening to the public tomorrow.
One of the most influential and ground-breaking artists of the post-war era, Klein produced an expansive and bold body of work during seven sustained years of artistic production until his untimely death aged just 34 in 1962, across a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, performance, theatre and film.
Theatre of the Void, this latest display at the Tate, features around 30 of Klein’s major works and breathes new life into his artistic creations. Klein’s fundamental interest in the complex relationship between infinite space and art underpins this display, with his ineffable originality flooding through his works, many of which are tinged in his signature colour pigment: IKB (International Klein Blue).
Klein’s vision for his art was for his creations to be liberated from all material and spatial constraints that the world imposes and instead, to express unrestrained freedom in the form of pure colour, inspired by the expanse of sky above us all, beautiful and limitless. “The blue sky is my first artwork,’ Klein boldly claimed in 1946, and it is clear to see the link between this frame of mind and the appropriation of the pure blue colour within infinite space that dominates much of his work.
I personally found Klein’s IKB blue monochrome paintings the most interesting of the display. While at first glance they are just an assortment of canvases all in the same ultramarine blue colour, they hold a great message about the nature of art itself. Seemingly identical, the pieces were all given different pricings when first shown in 1957, in order to place emphasis upon the individual’s experience with the painting when viewing it rather than placing it upon the material value of the work. This is a bold attack on the increasing commercialism of art Klein witnessed in his time, an anxiety contemporary art today also faces, making Klein’s message timeless.
Also on display are Klein’s Anthropometry paintings which showcase the expressive potential of the body by using ‘living paint brushes’; nude women covered in the IKB pigment, to create a material imprint of life directly onto canvas. These works provoke the viewer to consider new attitudes towards the relationship between the physical being and art and the idea of performance and art being inexplicably linked.
This exhibition is a thoroughly enjoyable experience and a great celebration of a visionary. It’s fantastic that Liverpool is getting the opportunity to play host to the work of such cultural icons as Klein, Emin and Blake at present – a visit to the Tate this season is a must.
The Yves Klein exhibition is on display from the 21st of October 2016 to the 5th of March 2017.
Entrance is free to all University students in Liverpool when a valid university ID card is presented.
For non-Liverpool students tickets are £10.00 or £8.00 for concessions (includes entrance into Edward Krasiński also).
For more information please visit: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-liverpool/exhibition/yves-klein