If I could describe this last summer in one word, it would be “color”.
Since taking Color Theory the previous semester, color has been absorbed into my life. I constantly wonder how colors are created and interact with each other. Also, I have a seemingly endless curiosity towards how color can influence our everyday lives. This fascination ranges from how color interacts in making choices to it’s impact on human emotion. Sound like an obsession? I argue most artists feel similarly towards color.
Yves Klein is an artist I believe majorly contributed to the world of color. Well, at least one color—a very special shade of ultramarine blue. As The Art Story describes, 19-year-old Klein reportedly “looked up at the sky and realized the infinite, immaterial space surrounding the universe”. He was captivated and wanted to display the same sky he saw through painting. However, he needed the right blue for the painting—his own special blue. According to the Museum of Modern Art, Klein “worked with a chemist to develop his own particular brand of blue. Made from pure color pigment and a binding medium, it is called International Klein Blue”.
So, through this electrifyingly deep blue hue in monochrome paintings and other works, Klein is able to pull us into what can only be described as “the void”, a deep and seemingly endless space. However, The Art Story explains that what is most important is how the viewer interacts with this space. How does it make them feel? Does it cause a recollection of a memory? These are questions Klein seems to want viewers to explore through his blue monochrome pieces.
One of Klein's works in particular causes an intense reaction for me. This would be Klein’s Blue Monochrome (1961). I’m immediately absorbed by the painting. The blue pulses with an eerie feeling that is almost indescribable. Then, I become aware of my heart beating. Finally, I feel a sense of peace surrounding me. How could I feel such a way about a simple shade of blue?
Klein states, “Blue has no dimensions; it is beyond dimensions, whereas the other colours are not... All colours arouse specific associative ideas... while blue suggests at most the sea and sky, and they, after all, are in actual, visible nature what is most abstract”. Are my feelings coming from something in this dimensionless and void-filled color? My answer: I really don’t have a clue. But, it is an answer to that question that I believe Klein wanted us to explore and to answer for ourselves.
It’s Klein’s fascination with blue that reaffirms and expands my newfound pull to the world of color. Color can create new feelings within us. It can take us to exciting unknown places that we haven’t experienced before. However, I believe color’s most important aspect is that it can help us learn more about ourselves.
1 "Yves Klein Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works." The Art Story. Accessed August 10, 2017. http://www.theartstory.org/artist-klein-yves-artworks.htm#pnt_1.
2 "Yves Klein. Blue Monochrome. 1961 | MoMA." The Museum of Modern Art. Accessed August 10, 2017. https://www.moma.org/collection/works/80103?locale=en.
3 "Yves Klein Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works." The Art Story. Accessed August 10, 2017. http://www.theartstory.org/artist-klein-yves-artworks.htm#pnt_1.
4 Klein, Yves. "Yves Klein Quotes." Art Quotes Categories. Accessed August 10, 2017. http://www.art-quotes.com/auth_search.php?authid=1652#.WY0U69PyuCR.
Cameron Cizek is a junior studying computing