• Testimonial: Yves Klein just died...

Article, 1962

Testimonial: Yves Klein just died...

Pierre Restany

Yves Klein just died at age 34 from a heart attack on June 6, 1962.

This sudden death - a veritable logical scandal - has mowed it in full swing; he leaves behind heaps of notes, sketched ideas, grandiose plans. His brief existence, he lived it at a blazing pace. He was exclusive and whole in his passions as in his acts, because he wanted to do fast and well.

He succeeded all his enterprises because he had the faith of great visionaries and their spiritual radiance, strangely communicative. His career is thus punctuated by stages-conquests that are as many myths incarnated in the facts: the monochrome proposal (conceived since 1946), the blue period (1957); the pneumatic era (1958), the Anthropometries (1960), Gold quivering and Immaterial (1960), Cosmogonies, paintings and fire sculptures (1961).

In less than ten years Yves Klein has twice toured the world and won the highest ranks of judo in Japan; exhibited some thirty times, in Tokyo, London, Paris, Nice, Düsseldorf, New York, Los Angeles; spoken in Sorbonne ("The evolution of art towards the immaterial"); built an architecture of air and air conditioning space; decorated monumental opera Gelsenkirchen; shot several movies; wrote hundreds of working papers and published two theoretical works, one on judo, the other on "overcoming the problem of art". We remain confused before such vitality. This exalted visionary projected into the present all the myths of the future. His thought was cosmogonic, his thirst for total absoluteness. Yielding to the Promethean temptation, he immediately annexed all the manifestations of the Elemental, the Wind, the Rain, the Lightning; he was building on air with air; he was finally domesticating the fire.

His expressive urgency which was without borders [sic] did not recognize any reserved area. For Yves Klein there was no problem (physical or metaphysical), but answers. There lay the secret of his strength, but his human fragility too. Yves' Royal Way started from the Blue to the Void: the trajectory was meteoric. We saw him disappear, dazzled, his eyes dry with stupor, unable to cry. Tears very useless elsewhere: its legend will only grow and with it a new dimension of its immutable presence.
Pierre Restany, text written on June 9, 1962, Cimaise, No. 60, July-August 1962