Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers
will be on view at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, October 23, 2010–February 13, 2011, following its premiere at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Showcasing the prolific but brief career (1954–1962) of one of the 20th century’s most influential artists, this major U.S. retrospective—Klein’s first since 1982—was co-organized by the Walker and the Hirshhorn, and co-curated by Dia Art Foundation director Philippe Vergne, formerly chief curator and deputy director at the Walker, and the Hirshhorn’s deputy director and chief curator Kerry Brougher.
Through some 200 works, Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers explores the full range of the artist’s body of work and offers an essential examination of a career that was a pivotal moment in contemporary art history. Featuring examples from all of Klein’s major series—from his iconic blue monochromes and Anthropometries to his sponge reliefs, Fire Paintings, “air architecture” projects, Cosmogonies, and planetary reliefs—the installation also provides insight into Klein’s process and conceptual endeavors through an array of ephemera, including sketches, photographs, letters, and writings. Several films, which document his working methods, further demonstrate both the range and the radical nature of his creative practice, which included painting, sculpture, performance, photography, music, architecture, and writing as well as plans for projects in theater, dance, and cinema.
“Klein’s work corresponds beautifully with the Walker’s history and mission,” says Olga Viso, Walker director. “His practice was radically cross-disciplinary and central to the evolution of much art made after 1960. The Walker has long championed the work of artists who bucked artistic trends and defy categorization and I’m thrilled we are one of the organizing institutions of this exhibition.”
Defying common notions of art—from his experiments with architecture made of air to his leap into the void—Klein aimed to rethink the world in spiritual and aesthetic terms. Self-identified as “the painter of space,” he sought to achieve immaterial sensibility through pure color, primarily an ultramarine blue of his own invention—International Klein Blue (IKB). Part shaman, part showman, a trickster, and at times, even a magician, Klein’s philosophy was revolutionary and demonstrated his acute grasp of the contemporary moment, from the horror of the Second World War to the promise of space travel. As Vergne observes, “I would like that when people leave the exhibition they leap into a void, leaving behind traditional notions of art and representation, but even more importantly, questioning the notion of materiality and materialism in art as well as in their lives. Ultimately, Klein’s lesson is about a different way of being together.”
With a special focus on Klein’s conceptual and performative projects, this presentation of his full oeuvre marks a key moment in the shift from modern to contemporary artistic practice and reveals the full extent of the artist’s lasting influence. Says Brougher, “Klein’s work questioned what art and even society could be in the future, and it provided new pathways leading to Pop Art, Minimalism, conceptual art, installation, and performance.”
Numerous objects on view are on loan directly from the Yves Klein Archives, which was a full collaborator in developing the exhibition. The show will also feature many works that have rarely been shown. Additional loans come from the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou in Paris, Kunstmuseen Krefeld in Krefeld, Germany, The Menil Collection in Houston, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and a host of international private collections, including a rare loan from the Monastery of Saint Rita in Cascia, Italy.
A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition, containing critical essays by curators Vergne and Brougher, Klein scholar Klaus Ottmann, art historian Kaira Cabañas, and curator Andria Hickey. The book also includes archival materials and translations of Klein’s published and unpublished writings. The catalogue is designed to evoke Untitled Sculpture (1957), Klein’s wall installation of blue cubes, a work included in the exhibition, for the blue exterior bears no text and the page edges are printed to match the cover, giving the appearance of a solid block of International Klein Blue. Distributed by D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, Inc., 155 Sixth Avenue, Second Floor, New York, NY 10013, 800.338.2665 (phone), 800.478.3128 (fax), artbook.com, and available at the Walker Art Center Shop, 612.375.7633 (phone), 612.375.7565 (fax).
ISBN 978-0-935640-94-6 $65 ($58.50 Walker members).