ARCHISPONGE (RE 11), YVES KLEIN, 1960

Yves Klein was one of the most celebrated contemporary artists, and painting was almost an obsession for him. He painted a series called Relief Eponges, in which he used actual sponges as a material for his paintings. This is, as the title suggests, the artwork he thought could be the most evocative and representative of the whole series.

The choice of the blue color is very particular: Klein was so obsessed with that blue color that he would paint anything in blue. But wasn’t satisfied with the nuance of blue he had, so that he worked so much until he came up with a very special blue: it is now called the International Klein Blue (IKB). But what did he want to communicate with that special blue? He wanted to capture the inmaterial, the untouchable, the unrepresentable. As a critic says, “He was genuinely fascinated by mystical ideas, by notions of the infinite, the undefinable, the absolute, and his use of a single rich and suggestive tone of blue might be seen as an attempt to free the viewer from all imposed ideas and let her mind soar.”

Actually, Klein’s art can be seen also from another point of view: it can be a kind of satire about the abstract art of that time. In fact, he said that there was nothing in his painting, that there was just the void: in this way though, he did legitimate abstract art with a formalist approach, as abstract art could be seen as the only thing capable of capturing the void to be seen for the viewer.

If we watch it in these terms, the whole work of Klein becomes really heavy and deep, and everyone caan get lost in that infinite blue void.

#funfact: this artwork has been sold in 2008 for $21,400,500 at Sotheby’s New York!

– M.C.

Bibliography and further readings:

WEITEMEIER Hannah, Yves Klein, Taschen Deutschland, 2016

KODDENBERG Matthias, Yves Klein in Out Studio, Acc Art Books, 2016

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