Medium: Dry pigment in synthetic polymer medium on cotton over plywood
Dimensions:6’ 4 7/8” x 55 1/8” (195.1 x 140 cm)
Monochrome abstraction—the use of one color over an entire canvas—has been a strategy adopted by many painters wishing to challenge expectations of what an image can and should represent. Klein likened monochrome painting to an “open window to freedom.” He worked with a chemist to develop his own particular brand of blue. Made from pure color pigment and a binding medium, it is called International Klein Blue. Klein adopted this hue as a means of evoking the immateriality and boundlessness of his own particular utopian vision of the world.
International Klein Blue (or IKB as it is known in art circles) was developed by Yves Klein as part of his search for colors which best represented the concepts he wished to convey as an artist. IKB was developed by Klein and chemists at the French pharmaceutical company Rhône Poulenc to have the same color brightness and intensity as dry pigments, which it achieves by suspending dry pigment in polyvinyl acetate, a synthetic resin otherwise marketed in France at the time by Rhône Poulenc as Rhodopas M or M60A.
In May 1960, Klein deposited a Soleau envelope, registering his paint formulation under the name International Klein Blue (IKB) at the Institut national de la propriété industrielle. The patent was published in April 1961.
Original Recipe (from patent)
Patent No. 63471 Issued Paris, May 19, 1960
IKB has been perfected by Yves Klein le monochrome in the course of the years 1954-55-56-57-58. The current chemical formula is exactly:
1.2 kilos Rhodopas (paste product) and MA (Rhone Poulenc) (vinyl chrloride)
2.2 kilos ethyl alcohol. 95% industrial, denatured
6.0 kilos Ethyl acetate
A total of 4 kilos
Mix cold while energetically agitating and never heat uncovered!
Then, mix cold the pure ultramarine blue 1311 in powder with fixative medium, in the proportion of 50%—if one adds 1/10 of the total with pure acetone—and 40%—if one adds pure alcohol.
CONTEMPORARY ADAPTED RECIPE:
Mix together (cold) pure ultramarine blue in powder with fixative medium, in the proportion of 50%.
Ultramarine blue powder and fixative medium can both be purchased in many places. Simpler alternative: find a tube of ultramarine blue that meets your liking and mix with fixative.