Yves Klein x Blenheim Palace

Yves Klein x Blenheim Palace

When I close my eyes and think of Yves Klein, I see the edges of an immaculate shirt, rolled sleeves, his stick dipping into blue and blotting out of the dimensions of white. I see a Roschach canvas with no determinants. I hear a music that cannot be scored. I see Klein, cool and as passionately indifferent as a trumpet player, opening his shirt and revealing a buzzing imprint. On his pale skin, as though executed by the hand of an irreverent archangle, the word AETHER drips in International Klein Blue. It bleeds into his shirttail. He motions for another shirt. I approach the closet, envisioning stacks of them on makeshift shelves, the white shirts of Yves Klein. But I, incapable valet cannot open the door. I scan his apartment, getting a sense of size, imagining his process. The radiators, so iconic in photographs, seem heartbreakingly small. Klein walks right through me. He showers, shaves, and goes to the closet. The door is suddenly transparent. Each shirt is identical and folded with the dedication of a foreign maid. he carefully chooses and adds a bowtie. He is ready for the tribunal. 

When I close my eyes I see an immaculate white shirt. When I open my eyes it is night in Tokyo. A bowl of sake covered in 24-karat gold leaf-pure enough to ingest-is set before me. I sit and do not drink. Gold is the matter that veined the banks that lined the River Havila that flowed out of Eden. I think of gold leaf canvases, considering what it would be like to peel the leaf and partake of it. Klein produced Immaterial Zones (thus rendering them material) in exchange for pure gold. Half of it was tossed into the River Seine as an offering to restore natural order, and half was allotted towards the execution of future work. His offering of half of his acquired gold did not appease the Tribunal. His unspeakable crimes included: manipulating silence, manufacturing a new kind of blue, and revealing the fifth element within his body of work on earth. The tribunal, an altogether heavenly body, sentenced him to create art eternally in heaven. And thus at thirty-four years old, the King of Aether was united with the petulant angels within the realm he had conqurered. 

- Patti Smith, 2012

It was an absolute delight to see heritage sites as Blenheim Palace innovating and experimenting with contemporary art, with the latest Yves Klein takeover with his radical rebel Blue revolution. I visited Blenheim Palace 10 years ago, but this time it was nothing like my last trip - as if Klein has injected a new boost of energy into the estates. The exhibition, which is presented in collaboration with the Yves Klein Estate, coincides with what would have been the artist’s 90th birthday year. Featuring over 50 artworks, this is the most comprehensive exhibition of Yves Klein in the UK to date, including the Monochrome paintings, infamous Anthropometry series and sculptures. Works immersed in IKB, a vivid ultramarine pigment, draws your attention naturally with a strong contrast against the 18th-century oil paintings and tapestry across the drawing rooms - makes you wonder how would the 1st Duke of Marlborough make of Yves Klein and his radical Avant-Garde approach to 'decorate' his living room... 

"Yves Klein at Blenheim Palace' runs through to October 7th, find out more about the show here