Exhibition, 11 Apr 1961 - 29 Apr 1961

Yves Klein le monochrome

Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, United States

In the spring of 1961, Yves Klein and his fiancée Rotraut Uecker, were en route to New York City. Leo Castelli, a leading American art dealer, had scheduled an exhibition of the work of “Yves le Monochrome” (as the painter had styled himself), to begin on April 11th. The exhibition marked Klein’s first solo show in the United States and its closing, set for the 29th of that month, virtually coincided with the artist’s thirty-third birthday, celebrated just the day before.

It is not remotely surprising that Leo Castelli would want to show the work of Yves Klein; indeed he had already done so in 1959 when, in a show of new sculpture called Works in Three Dimensions, (October 20–November 7), Klein was included alongside emerging notables such as John Chamberlain, Marisol, and Robert Rauschenberg.

The critic Roland F. Pease noted in Art International, that these large monochromes were like “seeing a natural wonder for the first time, some gigantic marvel like the Grand Canyon. Everybody has told you it is big, over-powering, incredible; but nobody mentioned that its size was measured by its immense, almost unbearable quiet. How silent! Its grandeur is one of absence. There is absolutely no noise. Thus it is with Klein’s Monochromes. The power comes from an absence…”

Robert Pincus-Witten
Extract from Yves Klein USA, Editions Dilecta, Paris, 2009