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In Search of Yves Klein

Liliane Lijn explores the work of French postwar artist Yves Klein, famous for patenting ultramarine blue and jumping from a window in the suburbs of Paris. Leap into the Void!

Yves Klein is best remembered for his use of a single colour, Yves Klein International Blue, but his theories, extravagant performances, and his radical conceptions have largely gone unacknowledged. Emerging as an artist after three decades of war and destruction, Klein's work and ideas are characterised by a jubilant 'breaking-free' from the clench of the early 20th century-- by optimism, exploration and a desire to experience life beyond the physical world - the "immaterial' as he called it'. His exhibition of an empty gallery space or the use of materials such as gold leaf (which he threw into the Seine) or fire: he even used naked bodies as paint brushes, single him out for changing the face of contemporary art. His artistic work was completed in only eight years - he died of a heart attack aged 34.

To coincide with Tate Liverpool's exhibition, the British American artist, Liliane Lijn, who met Klein in the late 1950s in Paris, gives vividness and clarity to the work and short life of this artist who said, "My paintings are only the ashes of my art".

Contributors include:
The artist and Klein's former wife, Rotraut Klein Moquay, his 'model' Elena Palumbo, the artists Michael Craig Martin, David Batchelor, Ian Whittlesea and Arnaud Desjardin, his biographer Sidra Stich, art dealer John Kasmin and critic Jasia Reichardt.

Producer, Kate Bland
A Cast Iron Radio production for BBC Radio 3.

Available now

45 minutes

Main image

Liliane Lijn in the Paris suburb Fontenay-aux-Roses, where Yves Klein made his "Leap into the Void"

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