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The idea of nothing

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posted on 2015-11-14, 15:57 authored by Philip Brereton
In January 1957 Ives Klein exhibited eleven monochrome canvases in Milan. Each canvas was mounted twenty centimetres in front of the wall as if to comment on the very emptiness of the space itself. The canvases, seen in this context, seemed weightless as if suspended in the space of the room itself. As such, the boundaries between subjective and objective were subtly blurred. For Klein each of these blue canvases “presented a completely different essence and atmosphere. None resembled any other”. However, Klein had begun painting similar monochromes as early as 1947, considering them to be a way of rejecting the idea of representation in painting and therefore of attaining creative freedom. Although it is difficult to date many of these works precisely, the early ones have an uneven surface, whereas, those painted later, are finer and more uniform in texture. For Klein blue was dimensionless. Blue was a unification of heaven and earth, the sky and the ground. Gone is the dividing line of the horizon. These monochrome canvases were to form a fundamental concept for much of Klein’s art. Within this setting the paintings appear to take on a life of their own. The singularity of colour dissolves any notion of the edge as a condition. As such the known merges with the unknown. Outside, Klein had hoped to illuminate the obelisk at the Palace de la Concorde in blue floodlights, while the base was to remain in total darkness. Like the canvases inside, the column would appear to float in mid-air as if suspended above the city.

History

Degree

  • Bachelor

First supervisor

Bucholz, Merritt

Second supervisor

Ryan, Anna

Third supervisor

Griffin, Andrew

Note

non-peer-reviewed

Language

English

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