• Beyond blue, the chromatic trilogy

Article, 2006

Beyond blue, the chromatic trilogy

Alain Bouzerand


In Yves Klein's imagination and symbolism, three colours are at the zenith: blue, gold and pink. These are the three colours of the ex-voto made for Saint Rita of Cascia, the patron saint of desperate causes. They are also the colours of the three obelisks and many monochromes. In traditional symbolism, blue, the favourite colour of most Westerners, is a call to escape to wide open spaces, the sky and the sea. Zeus' favourite colour in Antiquity, by the end of the Middle Ages it was the colour reserved for the Virgin's cloak. In favouring ultramarine blue IKB, Yves Klein no doubt wanted to recall his appropriation of space and his formula from his early youth: "I sign my name on the back of the sky; I pass to the other side of the sky".

Gold is the closest representation of the sun. It has all the meanings of the sun: light, warmth, life. In religions, it symbolises divinity, knowledge and radiance. The icons of the Buddha, for example, are gilded as a sign of enlightenment and perfection. But gold, the standard of material values, the supreme target of alchemy and for a long time the guarantee of stock exchanges and banks, is also the metal of the powerful of this world. In short, it is like a link between humanity and the divine.

As for pink, there are several possible explanations for this choice: the first name of his aunt who was so present in his life and who helped him a great deal financially; the flower often represented with Saint Rita; a reminder of his former affiliation with the Rosicrucians. Some also see in it the three coloured levels of a flame... Composed on a Monogold, a gold monochrome, the important painting Ci-gît l'Espace, with a blue sponge crown and a bouquet of roses, brings together Klein's trilogy of colours.

Alain Bouzerand, extract from "Yves Klein, au-delà du bleu", éditions A Propos, p. 27