The Centre Pompidou-Metz presents an exhibition dedicated to Yves Klein (1928-1962), a major figure on the French and European post-war art scene. "The sky as a studio" reveals the aesthetic affinities he developed, outside the movement of the New Realists, with a constellation of artists, from Gutaï in Japan to spatialists in Italy, from ZERO in Germany to the Nul group in the Netherlands. "Painter of space", Yves Klein projected art with them in a new odyssey. The sky, the air, the void and the cosmos then appear as the immaterial workshop conducive to reinventing art and man's relationship to the world after the tabula rasa of war. As early as 1946, Yves Klein signed the other side of the sky with his name, appropriating this infinite space as one of his canvases, while the spatialists around Lucio Fontana ventured to make "artificial shapes, wonderful rainbows, appear in the sky". Piero Manzoni is committed to the quest for an unlimited space in which "matter becomes pure energy" that responds to Klein's search for immaterial pictorial sensitivity and Otto Piene's search for an immaterial pictorial sensibility that sees art as the sensory and regenerative medium that allows man to reconnect to the universe.
The new plastic strategies developed aim to overcome the materiality of the work of art, seen as an obstacle to freedom, and venture into the experience of monochromy, emptiness and light, in gestures where the work is, like Lucio Fontana's torn or perforated canvases, open to infinity. This cosmogonic aspiration is shared by these artists who, in Klein's tradition, combine water and fire, earth and air. The works of light by Günther Uecker, Otto Piene, Heinz Mack, which evoke galaxies in formation, make their fears latent in the face of the threat of nuclear war. The body becomes the seismograph of this acute awareness that man must find ways out of the wounded earth, escape from it or re-fertilize it like the reptile dances in the mud of Kazuo Shiraga, which, like Klein's Anthropometries, make the body the very medium of painting.
In the context of the conquest of space, the poetic dimension of the cosmos was put to the test and Klein stated: "It was not with rockets, sputniks or rockets that man would conquer space because, in this way, he would always remain a tourist of this space; but it was in the sensitive inhabitant. "With Claude Parent, he explores the utopia of an air architecture that makes energy and air the main building materials in dialogue with other experimental projects such as Constant's New Babylon, Gyula Kosice's Cité hydrospatiale, Manzoni's pneumatic theatre designed to accommodate Piene's "ballets of light", which make the work of art an unlimited space where the body can project itself. In Klein's wake, who considers how "free man is so free that he can even levitate! ", this generation of artists share a new libertarian idealism, and make the sky the immaterial and spiritual shield against the nuclear arms race and the proliferation of its artificial suns.