Now it is flesh itself that applies colour to the surface at my instructions.
Yves Klein loved blue.
In fact he invented and patented his own special blue: IKB – International Klein Blue. He painted a lot of monochromes with this color. In Paris, on 9 March 1960, he decided he no longer needed to use a traditional brush.
Klein took the “artists’ model” and instead of having her pose for the painter, he had the models paint themselves blue, and press their bodies against canvas and paper. Accompanied by a live audience and a live orchestra.
It’s obviously one of the cheekier performances in art history – it takes a combination of vision, confidence, and hubris to pull it off. In a post-performance conversation, the abstract painter Georges Mathieu asked Klein “What is art for you?”
Klein smiled impishly and replied, “Art is health!”
There is something compelling about the contact print – an image made by being in contact with something else, be it a contemporary schoolchild making prints of plants or fish, or the red hands in Mayan ruins in the Yucatan or the hand prints in the paleolithic caves of Southern France.
When you look at a hand or body print, you know that a living being previously occupied exactly the same space that you now occupy. They are present, even as they are not. They reach out from the Klein painting, or across the ages from the cave walls.
It would be wonderful to create some “Living Brush” skins – flesh-colored SL skins with blue paint applied to the front of the torso – and stage them in a Klein-like setting for one of our performances.