• "Le Rose du Bleu [The Pink of Blue]", (RE 22)

Article, 2013

"Le Rose du Bleu [The Pink of Blue]", (RE 22)

Paul Nyzam

"In 1960, the initiate of the path of fire (Yves Klein) feels the need to settle on a nuance to this colour that will be personal to him. Which will he choose?...
Yves chooses madder rose of which the most representative example is the Sponge Relief (RE 022), Le Rose du Bleu ... Having thus acquired the third element, Yves Klein can, from now on, present the cosmological trilogy of personal transmutation of colours: ultramarine-blue IKB, gold, and pink ...
The transfer to monopink in the monochrome trilogy is revealing. Madder rose represents the Holy Spirit before the gold of the Father and the blue of the Son; gold for immortality and blue for sensibility...
The introduction of the monopink element in the Monochrome Painter's practice emphasizes a renewal of sensuality in the Anthropometries and Shrouds..."
Pierre Restany, Fire in the Heart of the Void, New York, 2005, pp. 24-26

"With its poetic and mysterious title of Le Rose du bleu [The Rose of Blue], (RE 022) this work is also a signature example not only of the series to which it belongs but also of the unique colour theory that came to dominate and distinguish so much of the work that Klein made during the last two years of his life. From the golden tomb-like Ci-gît l'espace to the large multicoloured Shrouds, Anthropometries, fire-sculptures and his final Fire-Colour paintings, almost all of Klein's most important late works make explicit reference to this spiritual concept of a blue-gold-pink trinity of colour. And, it was as an exemplar of this colour-theory that Le Rose du bleu, (RE 022) was first exhibited alongside other selected masterpieces from his oeuvre at the great retrospective exhibition of Klein's work held at the Haus Lange in Krefeld in January 1961.

Yves Klein gave titles to only a select few of his favourite and most important works. The rare and enigmatic title of Le Rose du bleu (RE 022) with its suggestion of the rose or pink colour of the work seemingly arising into being from the 'Blue' refers to Klein's notion of 'immaterial' blue, 'immortal' gold and 'corporeal' rose or pink, collectively forming an interdependent sacred trilogy of colours. This was a theory Klein first devised around 1959, and within its context, the colour pink was seen as representative of the material resurrection of the presence of the immaterial in the body or the flesh. With their absorptive and highly material 'living' sponges affixed to a monochrome plane of colour, Klein's sponge-reliefs are the quintessential (ultramarine International Klein Blue) but within the context of Klein's spiritual trinity of colour, the corporeal, material colour of rose or pink, became, as the title of RE 022 directly suggests, as appropriate a colour, if not indeed a more fitting one, than the blue.

Looking partly like a Martian landscape and partly like a mysterious organic constellation of a new Nature, Le Rose du bleu (RE 022) is a work that magnificently reflects Klein's aim of demonstrating the resonating immaterial energy of colour almost actively in the process of materialising itself physically through the sponge and the mysterious domain of the sponge relief. With their imposing, organic elements and the strong material projection into the three-dimensional space of the viewer, the sea-sponges - creatures that Klein described as 'savage, living, breathing, forms' - are saturated with a rich immaterial essence which, in the deep and resonant hue of the rose-madder pigment chosen for Le Rose du bleu, (RE 022) evokes a sense of the colour of flesh, or blood, or even Eucharistic wine. Materializing such deep, resonant but ultimately immaterial colour within the ambiguous and mysterious space established by Klein's poetic fusion of painting and sculpture, it is in this respect that Klein's monochrome pink sponge-reliefs form perhaps the highest expression of the artist's spiritually orientated concept of the material resurrection of the immaterial in all of his oeuvre. Klein's singular entitling of Le Rose du bleu (RE 022), by far his most ambitious pink sponge-relief, was also clearly intended to reinforce this transmutative aspect of these works.

Executed in 1960, Le Rose du bleu, (RE 022) is the defining example from a series of twelve pink or rose-coloured sponge-reliefs that Klein seems only to have begun making in this year. 1960 was an important year for Klein and one that, in many ways, was to mark the beginnings of the last phase of his work. It was in 1960 that Klein inaugurated both his Anthropometriesand Cosmogonies and, in a number of exhibitions held towards the end of the year, such as Yves le Monochrome at the Galerie Rive Droite, also the concept of his holy trinity of colour - blue-gold-pink. It was also in the autumn of 1960 that Klein first began to make preparations, along with major new works, for what was to be both the landmark retrospective of his career to date and the inauguration of a new phase in his work using fire."
Paul Nyzam, specialist in contemporary art