Thursday, May 22, 2008

Please have your boarding passes ready

Papy Biou, the creator of that French-language blog where I found the beautiful blue flower I posted about on May 13th, tells me that the particular blue about which I was curious comes close to being “bleu Klein,” explaining further that Klein was a French painter (1928-1962) famous for his monochrome realizations based on that particular blue. Only Papy said it in French (“peintre français (1928-1962), célèbre pour ses monochromes réalisés sur la base de ce bleu particulier”).

I know about Renoir and Degas and Monet and Toulouse-Lautrec, but I had never heard of Klein. So I looked him up by entering “Klein” and “+blue” into Google and found myself reading all about Yves Klein Blue, except that the Yves Klein Blue I was reading about is a rock band based in Brisbane, Australia. Oops. But I am a quick learner, and I understood instantly that a great many people know about Yves Klein, about the particular color called Yves Klein blue, and about esoterically-named rock bands on the international scene, and furthermore that I knew nothing about any of them. Surfing the Internet can be a humbling experience.

So for a very interesting Wikipedia article about Yves Klein, please go to Gate 1 at this time. For Wikipedia’s article about International Klein Blue (IKB), please go to Gate 2. If you would like to stare at the color for as long as you like, go to Gate 3.

The color Yves Klein prized so highly is similar to one called synthetic ultramarine. By surfing some more I learned that the natural pigment ultramarine (from ultramarinum, which means “beyond the sea” in Latin) is produced by grinding up the lapis lazuli stone and has been found in cave paintings in Afghanistan temples dating back to the sixth and seventh centuries A.D.

Klein had gold and pink periods as well, and also used paint-covered nude models, both men and women, to produce both static and dynamic paintings he called anthropométries.

Armchair travel is so broadening.


  1. Fascinating! I don't know why I am ever surprised at how many new things I learn from reading your blog posts. My choice tidbit selected from your post today is the information about grinding lapis lazuli to make ultramarine blue. Caused me to gasp, it did!

  2. C'est un plaisir pour moi qu'une petite fleur bleue ai pu entrouvrir pour vous une porte vers de nouveaux horizons.