Yves Klein via Wikipedia
This guy mystifies me, makes me think. Dead at 34 (multiple heart attacks), three years after this picture was taken in 1959, considered one of the early performance artists and a pioneer of the so-called New Realism in France, by which was meant a kind of super-realism that saw art as gesture, not representation, a daub of paint on a white board (no, that’s not right, more like instead of painting a woman you use a woman’s body to put a daub of paint on a white board). A little old hat now. You watch the video (whoa — in the second half watch the naked women and the FLAME THROWER). Naked women used as sponges and brushes by the formally attired artist, men in suits in chairs around the painting area. I am amused by his stiff earnestness as he nudges and guides the naked women into place. I am amused by the stiff old guys along the wall. I remember André Breton’s autobiographical novel Nadja, about the narrator, his wife and the neurotic, wild woman he falls in love with (neurotically — really, it’s the right word — and wildly). What is exposed in art SO OFTEN is the male assumption that women are the instruments and objects of art not artists, that men find wisdom or redemption through women (the flip side of this, of course, is the classic male fear that women ALREADY KNOW). Look at Klein’s photograph again. He is so young, so earnest, and so naive (and well-dressed despite the paint spatters). Pathos here. Not just for him, but for the women, also for the men sitting along the wall watching. Everyone so locked in his or her own (permitted) adventure, not the real adventure. Now watch the video again, look at the photograph, everyone near death, full of life, youth, enjoying the moment, even the women (dutiful, practical, earnest — interesting how aseptic, non-erotic the film is). I write this not to condemn Yves Klein. Not at all. We are so quick to condemn people for their false ideas with the same naive earnestness, the same belief in our own righteousness. The trouble with human beings is that they are all so well-intentioned (except, you know, for the psychopaths and narcissists). What is the real adventure?