This work is recorded in the Yves Klein Archives under no. ANT 156 and will be included in the new edition of the Yves Klein Catalogue Raisonné of the artist's work being prepared under the supervision of Rotraut Klein-Moquay.
Yves Klein was an artist who liked to think that he could fly and he urged his viewers to follow him headlong into the big blue. Klein had embraced blue - traditional signifier of heaven, sky and water - as the most pure, the most sublime, boundless, spiritual and cosmic color. To contemplate a Klein monochrome was to be mentally transported beyond one's physical dimension into the sacred realm of infinite blue space and pure spirit.
Klein's Anthropométries or body paintings are considered his most daring contribution to the lexicon of art history. A combination of performance and body art, Klein's use of "living brushes" brought the figurative back into avant-garde European art without the falseness of illusionist representation. For Klein, the body was a vitalizing energy-center that was itself both a sign and a signifier of life. "The body was an evocative presence but also a trace - the incorporeal vestige of a material form that no longer existed in real time." (S. Stich, Yves Klein, exh. cat, 1995, p.176). His Anthropometries capture the real imprint of the body, but at the same time somehow depict the very essence of the human spirit.
ANT 156 is a masterful example of how Klein used the physicality of the models' bodies to create an image of weightlessness and immateriality. The towering format of the picture, coupled with the ascending composition of multiple imprints, suggests the ascension of souls to the heavens. Klein was inspired in this capacity by Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending the Staircase, which suggests a sense of movement through the use of cubist fracture and the repetition of forms. Klein reverses the direction of this motion to represent the release of the spirit into the blue void.
Fig. 1 Hieronymous Bosch, Vision of Heaven, Venice, Palazzo Ducale
Fig. 2 Models performing in Klein's Anthrométries, photograph by Harry Shunk