IKB 79 is one of nearly two hundred blue monochrome paintings made by Yves Klein. Klein began making monochromes in 1947, considering them to be a way of rejecting the idea of representation in painting and therefore of attaining creative freedom.
The letters IKB stand for International Klein Blue, a distinctive ultramarine which Klein registered as a trademark colour in 1957. He considered that this colour had a quality close to pure space and he associated it with immaterial values beyond what can be seen or touched.
But blue is not necessarily a tranquil color, it can also, as Klein beautifully showed us, convey great trouble and distress – chaos:
YVES KLEIN: ANT 76, Grande Anthropophagie bleue Hommage à Tennessee Williams (1960), Paper mounted onto canvas
the Grande Anthropophagie bleue. Hommage a Tennessee Williams (1960) is a reflection of the fragility and suffering of the flesh. It is an appropriation of the final scene of Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer, the work can be seen as an expression of great violence by the chaos and force of its marks.
In the play, the protagonist is the victim of nightmarish punishment with makeshift weapons inflicted upon him by the young boys he abused. Through the heroin, a young woman played by Elizabeth Taylor, who witnessed the scene, we learn that jagged tin cans were used to rip up his body into strips. Klein takes up this theme under the no less violent title of anthropophagy to evoke a world that combines flesh and blood, guilt and penitence, weakness and strength of the body capable of suffering and inflicting suffering in return.
This Anthropophagy is blue: it recalls the ambivalence of the flesh, at once earthly and spiritual, the bearer of physical and moral suffering, mortal and eternal and, if one follows the artist’s theory of incarnation, verging on the Christian resurrection of the body.