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Yves Klein, a pioneer of conceptual and performance art and a forerunner of minimalism, became associated with work made with a single color: blue.
As a collecting institution, a large proportion of the museum's resources are devoted to protecting, building, and sharing the assets with which KAM is entrusted. KAM is proactive regarding the conservation of its art collection.
Recently, conservators in Chicago and New York have addressed twnety works of art for repairs, cleanings, and treatments to frames and housings. One of the most dramatic transformations relates to the sculpture Venus Bleue, 1962/1982 by French artist Yves Klein.
The 1957 exhibition Proposte monochrome, epoca blu (Monochrome propositions, blue period) at the Galleria Apollinaire, Milan featured eleven identical canvases that used ultramarine pigment suspended in an artificial resin. This brilliant color, reminiscent of the lapis lazuli used to paint the Madonna's robe in medieval paintings, was patented as International Klein Blue (IKB).
Klein's use of IKB extended beyond paintings to sculpture—as with Venus Bleue, he appropriated famous works, including the Venus de Milo and Winged Victory of Samothrace, and made them his own with the application of IKB.
Conservator Jackie Wilson of Wilson Conservation in Brooklyn, New York was recently at KAM to conserve Venus Bleue, whose velvet-like surface showed marks of handling as well as a previous, unsucessful repair. Wilson, recommended to the museum by the Yves Klein Archives, has developed an impressive expertise in repairing abrasions to Klein's delicate sculptures after restoring thirteen of the artist's works over the years.
Funding for this project was provided by the Travis B. Poole and Robert B. Smith Conservation and Preservation Fund.
The fully restored sculpture was featured in the Spring 2015 exhibition Versions and Revisions, curated by Kathryn Koca Polite.