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Leap into the Void, October 1960

  • Leap into the Void
    Artistic action by Yves Klein
    5, rue Gentil-Bernard, Fontenay-aux-Roses, France
    Photography
The title of this photographic work by Yves Klein from his newspaper Sunday, November 27th, 1960 "The Newspaper of a Single Day is: "A man in space! The painter of space leaps into the void!".

The photograph is accompanied by the following text:

"The monochrome man who is also champion of judo, black belt 4th dan, practices regularly dynamic levitation! (with or without a net, at the risk of his life).

He claims to be able to join up with his preferred work in space soon: an aerostatic sculpture, composed of one thousand and one blue balloons, which will take off from his exhibition in 1957 into the sky of Saint-Germain-des-Prés never again to return!

To liberate sculpture from its pedestal has long been his concern. Today the painter of space must, in fact, go into space to paint, but he must go there without trickery or deception, and not in an airplane, nor by parachute or in a rocket: he must go there on his own strength, using an autonomous individual force; in short, he must be capable of levitation.

Yves: I am the painter of space. I am not an abstract painter but, on the contrary, a figurative artist, and a realist. Let us be honest, to paint space, I must be in position, I must be in space. "
Yves Klein, excerpt from Sunday, November 27th, 1960, The Newspaper of a Single Day, 1960

Yves Klein considers that space is his domain and that he can go there by the power of the spirit alone.

The jump takes place on October 19th 1960 in Fontenay-aux-Roses, in a street where a judo club had often welcomed him.

Yves Klein rises from a pillar at the entrance of a pavilion, his face turned to the sky, his arms crossed. Far from falling, the artist seems to take off.

Anxious, as usual, to keep track of his actions, he invited, to immortalize the gesture, his two favorite photographers: John Kender and Harry Shunk. It is they who will realize in their Parisian laboratory this photomontage published for the first time in the frontpage of the newspaper creatde by Yves Klein "Sunday, November 27th, 1960 "The Newspaper of a Single Day", which the Parisians will find in kiosks, on November 27, 1960.

The street is deserted, apart, at the bottom, on the right of the photo, a back cyclist who has just passed. A man in full levitation between heaven and earth did not stop or turn around; he continues his way, indifferent to this act which, nevertheless, seems to us unusual, even disconcerting. A testimony collected from Harry Shunk by Sidra Stich tells us that the cyclist was the photographer John Kender and that the idea of including it in the photo would have come from Harry Shunk himself.

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