Not much time was left for Yves Klein to make his mark on the history of art. And yet he had become a legend by the time he died of a heart attack in 1962. In the course of only a few years, Klein had made it to the top of the international avant-garde movement. He was represented by the leading galleries of this time; his works were exhibited at major institutions. Early on, Klein was aware of the growing importance of the media, which he made to work to his advantage. In contrast to many of his contemporaries, he did not see photography purely as a means of documentation but, above all, as a way of presenting his subjects. By deciding who could take photos of him and how this was done, he turned his artistic life into a myth that blurred the boundary between art and life.
The book presents iconic works such as the bold photograph Leap into the Void, the blue murals at the opera house in Gelsenkirchen or his programmatic exhibition titled Monochrome und Feuer (“Monochromes and Fire“) at Museum Haus Lange in Krefeld, Germany. Most importantly, it offers a look behind the scenes of his performances, uncovers the genesis of his famous Anthropometries and Fire Paintings and portrays Klein at work in his studio, in private settings and on his travels. There are also numerous contact prints with lesser-known photos and snapshots that are not listed among the famous pictures released for publication.
Author and editor Matthias Koddenberg (* 1984) has worked in close collaboration with the Yves Klein Archives in Paris to compile around 300 photographs and images of Klein’s works, many of which are published for the first time. In addition to pictures of acclaimed photographers such as René Burri, Harry Shunk and János Kender or Charles Wilp, the book contains photographs of friends and colleagues as well as pictures from Klein’s private archives, thus telling the intimate story of an extraordinary artist.