Yves Klein

“We now reach April 1958 as we prudently and progressively move forward in time. I was preparing for The Pictorial Sensibility in the State of First Matter, Specialized in Stabilized Pictorial Sensibility (La sensibilité picturale a l’état matière première, spécialisée en sensibilité picturale stabilisée). It was later referred to as my Pneumatic Period. [Laughter] It followed the ethical rules that I had developed in the course of ten years. That ethics is the source of the immaterialism that will accomplish the rediscovery of a true love for matter as opposed to the quantitative, mummifying materialism that renders us slaves to matter and transforms it into a tyrant.

With this attempt I wished to create, establish, and present to the public a sensible pictorial state within the confines of a picture gallery. In other words, I sought to create an ambience, a pictorial climate that is invisible but present, in the spirit of what Delacroix referred to in his journal as the indefinable, which he considered to be the very essence of painting.

This pictorial state, invisible within the gallery space, should provide the best general definition of painting to this day, which is to say, radiance. If the creative process is successful, this invisible and intangible immaterialization of painting should act upon the sensible vehicles or bodies of the visitors to the exhibition much more effectively than ordinary, visible paintings, whether they are figurative, non-figurative, or even monochrome.”1

With radical consistency, Yves Klein established Le Vide as a zone of emptiness in the Paris gallery Iris Clert in 1958, before it became the centre of attention at the Museum Haus Lange in Krefeld in 1961. In the other exhibition spaces in Krefeld, the artist displayed his current oeuvre under the title Yves Klein: Monochrome and Fire. Klein aimed to shape both real and mental space with this radical monochromaticity – to a point where his sponge sculptures would follow the idea of permeation as absorbent objects. 

Anke Hervol


1 Yves Klein, excerpt of Lecture at The Sorbonne, 1959, in: Overcoming the problematics of Art –The writings of Yves Klein, Putnam 2007


In the exhibition:

Yves Klein
Untitled White Monochrome (M 33), 1958
Pure pigment and synthetic resin on gaze, mounted on a plate
64,5 × 50 cm
Private collection

Yves Klein
The Specialization of Sensitivity to the State of Raw Material in Stabilized Pictorial Sensitivity (Known as “Vacuum”) 
Gallery Iris Clert, Paris, 1958
1:40 min
© The Estate of Yves Klein c/o ADAGP, Paris


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