French artist Yves Klein is known for his use of minimal, monochrome colour and is famous for his electric ultramarine blue called Klein Blue. Klein created the colour together with chemists and registered it as International Klein Blue in 1960. Since then Klein Blue has been a major influence on art, fashion and interiors.
While the colour is not new, it is exciting when it pops up in fashion and interiors. Lately I have seen intense blues popping up everywhere under various name guises – hyper blue, electric blue and cobalt to name a few. Then, I unexpectedly got to see the Yves Klein exhibition at Blenheim Palace and now I see intense blues in a whole new way.
Here is a brief look at the Yves Klein exhibition at Blenheim Palace and some of the hyper blues popping up in interiors.
Yves Klein was born in 1928 and died in 1962 at the young age of 34. In his short life he became known as a front-runner in minimal pop art as well as a pioneer in performance art.
For Klein his International Klein Blue was the perfect colour to express his spiritual beliefs. Ultramarine is the colour of the Holy Ghost in Christianity and also evokes the infinite expanse of the sky and the depth of the ocean. To him the colour had no dimensions.
Yves Klein at Blenheim Palace
As I mentioned I had seen intense blues popping up everywhere but nothing prepared me for the Yves Klein exhibition at Blenheim Palace in Oxford, where I had gone to research 18th century decorating style for an interior design project.
Here I was all the way from South Africa planning to get some great shots of the decor of the period and all I could see jumping out at me was International Klein Blue!
While I am so grateful I got to see the exhibition, in my opinion Blenheim was not the best place to showcase his art. It was over powering and shocking in a way. I can’t decide if he would have approved or not.
This was my introduction to his Anthropometry Series – the painting looked so out of place that my first thought was the original Blenheim painting must have gone in for renovation.
The story behind this series however is quite fascinating and showcases his penchant for performance art. Klein used naked female models as ‘brushes” in this series. The models were painted blue and pressed against the canvas to create the unique paintings.
He staged the Anthropometry paintings as elaborate stage performances where guest were served blue cocktails and were subject to a monotone symphony – a single note played for 20 minutes followed by 20 minutes of silence.
To be honest I found it difficult to appreciate the Klein Blue artworks styled together with the 18th Century decor, as much as I tried to compartmentalize the two. Goodness knows what Queen Anne or Churchill would have thought.
Blenheim aside, Klein Blue is a fantastic colour which really pops when used in the correct setting. Here are some inspirational interiors using Klein Blue and other Hyper Blues which have caught my eye.
Hyper Blue Interior Inspiration
More true to Klein is this monochrome bathroom which featured in the September 2018 Elle Decoration Bathroom Supplement.
Beautiful delft-blue tiles adored with floral motifs by London based studio Glithero.
Blue bedroom by Swedish stylist Sara Sjogren
The supersized Anglepoise lamp in Conran Blue at the Conran Shop.
The colour is just stunning in glass.
There is no mistaking Klein Blue, it’s a colour that defies the calm and serene qualities that we normally associate with blue. Rather it is inspirational, daring and bold. For these reasons I don’t see the colour fading any time soon.
Hope you have an inspirational week.
5 thoughts on “Yves Klein at Blenheim and the Hyper Blue Trend in Interiors”
What a fascinating article and history behind one of my favourite blues!
Thanks so much Cheryl
Hi Anne – I loved this piece – Thank you for sharing….. more importantly I wanted to find out more about Yves Klein – what a fascinating artist who used interesting mediums and art forms to get his opinion across. Cobalt Blue is magnificent – As a contrast you need to go to the Blue Mosque/St Sofia and the other gorgeous mosques in Istanbul to see the rich blues they used in their mosaics and artworks. Thanks for the interesting article
Thanks Liz, I would love to go and will put Istanbul on my bucket list xxx