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Yves Klein

Denounced as a charlatan and fêted as a mystic, French artist Yves Klein (1928–62) scandalized the art world with his enthusiastic embrace of postwar mass culture and his exploitation of controversial publicity tactics. Today, we know Yves Klein not only as one of the most radical artists of the postwar period, but also as an iconic role model for contemporary practices—he reinvented abstract painting, conceived new horizons for performance art, and was a trailblazer in the realm of land, body, and conceptual art. In this new critical biography, Nuit Banai examines the relationship between Klein’s brief life and his wide repertoire of artistic practices.
While surveying the artist’s life, Banai establishes that Klein’s brilliance was, above all, performative, revealing that he created and inhabited myriad public identities: bourgeois, judo expert, painter, avant-garde artist, collaborator, politician, fascist, and showman, among others. With each persona, Banai shows, Klein invented new ways to communicate his paradoxical message of spiritual enlightenment and Dada iconoclasm to a rapt and unsuspecting audience. Illuminating the many facets of Klein’s influential artistic career, Yves Klein is an invaluable introduction to the inventor of the inimitable International Klein Blue.

208 pages | 5 x 7 7/8 | © 2014

Critical Lives

Biography and Letters


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Table of Contents

Introduction: Klein the Paradox

1. Living on the Axis: Bourgeois and Bohemian, 1928-48

2. In Search of ‘Self’: Becoming a Judoka/Artist, 1948-52

3. Assuming the Pose: Yves Klein Fourth Dan, 1952-4

4. ‘Painter’, 1954-5

5. Avant-garde Artist, 1955-7

6. Charlatan, 1957-8

7. Collaborator, 1957-61

8. Middle-class Mystic, 1958-62

9. The Poet-politician: ‘The Blue Revolution’, 1958-61

10. ‘The Flying Fascist’, 1961

11. Showman, 1961-2

Klein’s Afterlives


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