Pure Pigment of Klein's Imagination.

Art work in Focus: Pure Pigment

Artwork: Pure Pigment

Artist: Yves Klein

Year: 1957 (First created)

Medium: Loose

Location: Installation view of Pure Pigment , Museum of Old and New Art Tasmanie, 2018


Yves Klein was a French artist who became a leading figure in the post war European art scene. Klein, whose parents were both artists, was an autodidact (self-taught). In his youth Klein travelled extensively and taught Judo in Japan before returning to Paris and dedicating himself fully to his art practice in 1954.

Klein’s aim was to ‘liberate colour from the prison that is line’ and chose to express feeling believing that a work of art was a trace of a conversation between an artist and the world - an invisible truth made visible. Klein used a bluer than blue hue, now known globally as International Klein Bleu, as his way of capturing his message within his work as he believed this specific colour radiated in a way which not only engaged the viewer’s eye but allowed them to read his work through their imagination.

The work pictured, ‘Pure Pigment’, also referred to as ‘Dry Blue Pigment’, is a shallow wooden basin spread with pure pigmented powder grains of the now trademarked, International Klein Blue.

By having this work on the floor and allowing the pigmented powder to be loose within the basin, Klein revelled in the fact he had freed the colour from the traditional canvas setting of lines and shapes. This is a continuous theme of Klein’s outpour, loosely applying his signature pigment to his works.


This work was first displayed in Paris in 1957 and needs to be re-created each time it is put on display in accordance to the artist's original instructions. Klein tragically died at the age of 34 in 1962 from a heart attack but left behind a wealth of work and writings which has allowed his legacy to continue.

You can find out more about Klein’s works by following the Yves Klein archives on Instagram: @yvesklein_archives


Jo McLaughlin June 2020

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