Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Yves Klein - The Monotone-Silence Symphony

Writing about Yves Klein's Monotone Symphony is, of course, just an excuse to mention his amazing artwork. Yves Klein, born in 28 April 1928 in France, was a revolutionary, short-lived artist more known for his monochromes. He developed and patented his own color, International Klein Blue (IKB, and don't miss the hommage webpage), and painted several canvases in this color:

IKB 191, 1962. Picture from Wikipedia.

But indeed Klein also composed a symphony. I found only an excerpt of the 40-minute work. But don't hold your breath... it's 20 minutes with the suspended chord and 20 minutes silence. Surprinsingly, this was 1949, three years before Cage's silent 4'33''. During the premiere, three naked models were also conducted by Klein to cover themselves in IKB paint and then roll over a canvas:


But Klein was much more: the empty exhibition, the leap into the void, the fire paintings, the gold thrown into the river, ...

Even though Klein's monochromes may sound ludicrous at first, the impressiveness of such work is only fully appreciated when seen live. The closest one (to the Netherlands) I know of is at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, in permanent exhibition, together with a gold-leaf work and another blue monochrome with sponges. The Tate Modern also has one but I have never seen it hanging.


  1. It was very interesting for me to read this post. Thanks for it. I like such themes and anything connected to them. I would like to read more soon.

  2. Thanks! I've been very lazy in posting recently, but I'm certain to change that in the near future :-)

  3. Aparentemente somos 'vizinhos' neste pequeno, mas populoso mundo que é Utrecht:)

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. About the Klein Blue and music. I invite you to experience this video : "10 seconds of klein blue" (You can get it on google)