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Klein, Yves


KLEIN, YVES (1928–1962), painter and judo expert. Klein was born in Nice. He first became a jazz musician and then went to Paris to study judo in which he became an expert. In Paris he met the French artists Arman and Pascal, and as a result began experimenting with painting and collage techniques. He traveled extensively, became a teacher at the National Spanish Judo Federation, Madrid, and opened his own judo school in Paris in 1955. By this time Klein was established as one of the most eclectic and daring younger European artists. In 1956 he figured in the "Festival of Avant-Garde Art" in Marseilles alongside Agam, Soto, and Tinguely. The following year he inaugurated his famous "blue period," in which both paintings and sculptures were only in this color. Klein was one of the most brilliant and influential members of the post-war school of "anti-art" protagonists. His ideas and philosophy stemmed directly from the informality and gestural "magic" which originated with Marcel Duchamp. He sought to bring back excitement and freedom into art, and at the same time to make it more "real," and more meaningful to ordinary people. In addition to his preference for monochrome canvases, he used live nude figures, daubed with paint, to make impressions on a flat space; he also introduced photographic conceptualism and everyday objects in the art statement. He was one of the founders of the "New Realism" movement which included artists like Arman, Rauschenberg, Tinguely. Since his death Klein has been rediscovered and reclaimed as one of the major artists of the century.

[Charles Samuel Spencer]

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