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Died: 6th June 1962
Born in a family of artists in Nice (South of France), after studying Oriental Languages and becoming a black belt in judo, at the age of 19 he decides he will become an artist. Quickly his work is strikingly avant-gardist: in 1949, years before John Cage "4'33" minutes of silence and the Fluxus' sound performances, he creates "The Monotone-Silence Symphony," a twenty minute sustained chord followed by twenty minutes of silence. During the mid 50s he explores ideas of art and void with monochromes covered in his copy-written IKB (Internal Klein Blue) color. This electric ultramarine will become his signature trait - using it to cover Greek classical busts, naked female bodies - that he uses as paint brushes -, world globes, a German Opera House or sponges. In the early 60s he turns towards more performative modes of expresson to explore the nothingness and immateriality that, he believes, are so central to the creation of our selfhoods. Suggesting the importance of absence for the existence of an object, idea or subject, during a show at Iris Clert Gallery (1959) he leaves the entire gallery space empty but offers the visitors IKB colored cocktails; or in 1960 he organizes performances involving art collectors buying empty spaces for real gold, to then toss half of it in the Seine, and using the remaining to make pink and golden paints.
His short career, ending abruptly with his death in 1962, at the age of 34, means that his works are few, however the impact of his oeuvre make him one of the most revolutionary and interesting arists of the 20th century.
At a 2006 Christie's auction in New York his work "RE 34" (1960) sold for $4,720,000, and in 2000 his "RE 1" (1958) went for $6,716,000.(read less)
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