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With its poetic and mysterious title of Le Rose du bleu (RE 22) ('The Rose of Blue') this work is also a signature example not only of the series to which it belongs but also of the unique colour theory that came to dominate and distinguish so much of the work that Klein made during the last two years of his life. From the golden tomb-like Ci-gît l'espace to the large multicoloured Shrouds, Anthropometries, fire-sculptures and his final Fire-Colour paintings, almost all of Klein's most important late works make explicit reference to this spiritual concept of a blue-gold-pink trinity of colour. And, it was as an exemplar of this colour-theory that Le Rose du bleu (RE 22) was first exhibited alongside other selected masterpieces from his oeuvre at the great retrospective exhibition of Klein's work held at the Haus Lange in Krefeld in January 1961.

Yves Klein (* 28 April 1928 in Nice; † 6 June 1962 in Paris) was a French painter, sculptor and performance artist. He was a co-founder and leading representative of the art movement called Nouveau Réalisme in France. Le Rose du bleu (RE 22), originally part of Yves Klein's legendary Menil collection, is one of the defining masterpieces of Yves Klein's diverse, eclectic and influential oeuvre. It has been included in every major Yves Klein exhibition that has taken place. A vast, nearly two-metre-high monochrome canvas spectacularly adorned with nine massive sea-sponges and thousands of scattered pebbles to form a magical organic and otherworldly landscape both saturated by and radiating a deep rose madder hue, it is by far the largest and most important example of the series of monochrome pink sponge-reliefs that Klein first began to make in 1960.


Yves Klein


Mixed media, dry pigment and synthetic resin, natural sponges and pebbles on board, 199,0 x 153,0 x 16,0 cm
 Private Collection
 © Christie‘s Images Ltd – ARTOTHEK
 Yves Klein © The Estate of Yves Klein c/o Bildrecht, Wien 2021

261 | Le Rose du bleu (RE 22), 1960

Dry pigment and synthetic resin, natural sponges and pebbles on board, 145,0 x 116,0 cm
 Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
 © U. Edelmann – Städel Museum – ARTOTHEK
 Yves Klein © The Estate of Yves Klein c/o Bildrecht, Wien 2021

262 | Relief éponge bleu (Kleine Nachtmusik), 1960



Klein only gave titles to some of his favorite and most important works. The rare and enigmatic title of Le Rose du bleu (RE 22), with its suggestion of the pink or pink color of the work that appears to emerge from the “blue”, refers to Klein's notion of “immaterial” blue, “immortal” gold and 'physical' rose or pink which together form an interdependent sacred trilogy of colors. This was a theory that Klein first developed around 1959, and in its context the color pink was considered representative of the material resurrection of the presence of the immaterial in the body or the flesh. With their absorbative and highly material "living" sponges attached to a monochrome color plane, Klein's sponge reliefs are the epitome (Ultramarine International Klein Blue), but in the context of Klein's spiritual trinity of color, the corporeal, material color of rose or pink became, as the title of Re 22 directly suggests, a color, if not a more appropriate one than blue. Yves Klein was an important figure in post-war European art. He was a leading member of the French art movement Nouveau réalisme, founded in 1960 by the art critic Pierre Restany. Klein was a pioneer in the development of performance art and is considered an inspiration and precursor of Minimal Art as well as Pop Art.

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