The Artist Birthday Series

Yves Klein

Today’s Artist Birthday: Yves Klein

Yves Klein (28 April 1928 – 6 June 1962) was a French artist considered an important figure in post-war European art. He is the leading member of the French artistic movement of Nouveau réalisme founded in 1960 by art critic Pierre Restany. Klein was a pioneer in the development of performance art, and is seen as an inspiration to, and as a forerunner of, Minimal art, as well as Pop art.

Black and white portrait of French artist Yves Klein (1928 - 1962) in a bowler hat as he stands in front of one of his Blue Sponge Sculptures, France, late 1950s. The first public display of these sculptures, which were made from different sized sponges that had been dyed blue, was on June 15, 1959 at the Galerie Iris Clert in Paris, France. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)
Yves Klein standing in front of one of his Blue Sponge Sculptures, France, late 1950s.  (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

Yves Klein was born on April 28, 1928, in Nice, France, to an artistic family; his mother, Marie Raymond, was a leading figure in the Art Informel movement, while his father, Fred Klein, painted figures and landscapes characteristic of the Post-Impressionists. Although Klein grew up in a creative household, he received no formal artistic training. The family lived in Paris between 1930 and 1939, but spent the summer months with artist friends in Canges-ser-Mer where he was left in the care of his aunt, Rose Raymond. She provided him with stability and a pragmatic outlook, a stark contrast to his parents’ free-spirited attitude. These differing viewpoints, combined with his parents’ artistic conflicts between figurative and abstract work, eventually led him to reject line and severely restrict color in his early work.

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