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Bolt from the Blue: Sightings of Yves Klein’s Iconic Hue

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Bolt from the Blue: Sightings of Yves Klein’s Iconic Hue

June 27, 2018

A few weeks back Julie, Margot, and I gathered around one screen to admire a project Meredith had found in Paris. What we couldn’t look away from: a striking blue bookshelf so vibrant it felt electric. It caused us to revisit Yves Klein Blue, the shade invented—and made famous—by the French artist. According to MoMA (in writing about one of his monochrome blue paintings): Klein enlisted a chemist to develop the shade, made of pure ultramarine pigment suspended in a binding medium. (The secret to its literal brilliance? No linseed oil.) In 1957, Klein held his first exhibit in honor of the hue—11 canvases saturated in blue—at the Gallery Apollinaire in Milan. To preserve the “authenticity of the pure idea,” Klein deposited samples into a Soleau envelope, the charmingly tactile version of a French copyright, and sealed it: officially proprietary.

Nevertheless the color—known as International Klein Blue—became iconic, adopted and replicated by designers and artists (including another Yves: Saint Laurent, who painted his Moroccan home and gardens in homage to the color), in hotels, even on appliances. “Klein likened monochrome painting to an ‘open window to freedom,'” according to MoMA. Here’s a deep dive—no pun intended—into a few favorite sightings of Yves Klein Blue and its look-alikes.

The bookshelf in question: striking built-ins painted in a bold Yves Klein lookalike in a Paris apartment by Batiik Studio.
Above: The bookshelf in question: striking built-ins painted in a bold Yves Klein lookalike in a Paris apartment by Batiik Studio.
An Yves Klein look-alike is just one of many blue hues in stylist Tiina Laakonen&#8
Above: An Yves Klein look-alike is just one of many blue hues in stylist Tiina Laakonen’s Hamptons house; see Rhapsody in Blue: A Finnish Stylist at Home in the Hamptons.
A room in shades of blue—with Klein-esque pillows—at Hotel Palisade: Seaside Glamour on Sydney Harbor, from Sibella Court.
Above: A room in shades of blue—with Klein-esque pillows—at Hotel Palisade: Seaside Glamour on Sydney Harbor, from Sibella Court.
It works outside as well: as seen on the door of Gowanus Inn in Brooklyn: A Hotel Inspired by 50s Americana.
Above: It works outside as well: as seen on the door of Gowanus Inn in Brooklyn: A Hotel Inspired by 1950s Americana.
Yves Klein Blue in a small dose in an otherwise neutral apartment. Read more at In Paris, a Grand Apartment Gets an Update for a Modern Family.
Above: Yves Klein Blue in a small dose in an otherwise neutral apartment. Read more at In Paris, a Grand Apartment Gets an Update for a Modern Family.
Little Greene&#8
Above: Little Greene’s paint color Ultra Blue is a close match.
A glimpse into an unexpectedly vibrant blue bath in Hudson Valley Hues: At Home with an Inventive Textile Designer.
Above: A glimpse into an unexpectedly vibrant blue bath in Hudson Valley Hues: At Home with an Inventive Textile Designer.
Bedding for the bold: electric blue sheets (like these Workwear Blue Bed Linens from Conran Shop in the UK) blanket the bed. Photograph from Trend Alert:  New Design Developments on Our Radar for Fall .
Above: Bedding for the bold: electric blue sheets (like these Workwear Blue Bed Linens from Conran Shop in the UK) blanket the bed. Photograph from Trend Alert: 10 New Design Developments on Our Radar for Fall 2017.
The proprietary hue has been adapted for every type of product, refrigerators included. Photograph from  Trend Alert:  Kitchens with Colorful Refrigerators.
Above: The proprietary hue has been adapted for every type of product, refrigerators included. Photograph from  Trend Alert: 13 Kitchens with Colorful Refrigerators.
And one from Gardenista: At his Jardins Majorelle home and gardens in Morocco, Yves Saint Laurent painted fountains, pathways, even the house&#8
Above: And one from Gardenista: At his Jardins Majorelle home and gardens in Morocco, Yves Saint Laurent painted fountains, pathways, even the house’s exterior in an homage to the original Yves. Photograph from 10 Garden Ideas to Steal From Morocco.
Another from Rhapsody in Blue: A Finnish Stylist at Home in the Hamptons: hints of Yves Klein.
Above: Another from Rhapsody in Blue: A Finnish Stylist at Home in the Hamptons: hints of Yves Klein.

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