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Rocket Pneumatique [Pneumatic Rocket], 1962

  • Rocket Pneumatique [Pneumatic Rocket]
    Painted and chromed metal, painted rubber
    35 x 30 x 26 inch
At the turn of the 1950s, Yves Klein’s interest turned to speed, as was the case with many other artists, including Georges Mathieu. In 1958, at the height of the Russo-American space race, when the first Sputnik and Explorer satellites were launched, Klein, in whose work space played a central role, conceived a rocket “which accelerates by progressive pulsations, ad infinitum.” Made to travel through space, it would convey no information, carry no travellers and have no destination. Its sole vocation was to leave Earth and to return to the cosmic void, and not to return.
Klein drew little and, when he met Claude Parent in the spring of 1959, it was understood that the architect would represent his intentions more precisely on paper. Although inclining more to a rationalist approach, Parent agreed to work on the painter’s ideas and let himself be guided by his imagination. Klein also called on the designer Roger Tallon, who had been a friend since late 1959, to make a model after Parent’s drawings. Like an airborne medusa, the Rocket is driven by pulsed air: it has no engine, but sucks in and pushes out air. Like a lung that works only in the atmosphere, it must breathe in order to advance. Even if the Pneumatic Rocket never got beyond the drawing board, Klein registered a patent at the Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle on 19 May 1960 (Soleau envelope no. 63470). In doing so, he abolished the frontier between dream and reality. The model was exhibited in May 1962 at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris as part of the exhibition “Antagonismes 2: L’Objet”, alongside the Air Architecture, another project the painter conceived in collaboration with Roger Tallon and Claude Parent.

Christelle Lecoeur, excerpt of "Yves Klein Claude Parent - The Memorial, An Architecture Project", Editions Dilecta, Paris, 2013
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