Yves Klein

Le Vide

Preparation and Presentation of the Exhibition of 28 April 1958 at Iris Clert, 3 rue des

Beaux-Arts, Paris.


The Specialization of Sensibility from the Status of Raw Material into Stabilized Pictorial





The object of this endeavor: to create, establish, and present to the public a palpable pictorial state in the limits of a picture gallery. In other words, creation of an ambience, a genuine pictorial climate, and, therefore, an invisible one. This invisible pictorial state within the gallery space should be so present and endowed with autonomous life that it should literally be what has hit her to been regarded as the best overall definition of painting:




To this end, then, we compose with Iris Clert the invitation card to the opening. The text is by Pierre Restany. This brilliantly laconic text is very clear and we decide, in view of the importance of this exhibition for the history of art, to have it engraved on informals in London script, for the sake of solemn ceremony and especially so that the blind can read it. (They are all that blind!) The ink used will be blue, obviously, painted on white cards.


This method, which seems to smack of Symbolism, is really not that, since in fact everything happens in space. It provides a fitting foretaste of what the exhibition will be: in actuality a space of Blue sensibility in the frame of the whitened walls of the gallery. (This sensitive body contains Blue blood.) A decision is also made to send out the invitations in envelopes bearing the formidable blue stamp of the blue period of the previous year.


Thirty-five hundred invitations are sent, 3,000 of them in Paris alone. We decide also to add a sort of free entry card, stipulating that without this special little card the price of admission will be $3.00 per person.


The Galerie Iris Clert is a very small room, it has a show window and an entrance on the street. We will close the street entrance and make the public enter through the lobby of the building. From the street it will be impossible to see anything but Blue, because I will paint the window glass with blue. The canopy will be Blue too.


On Saturday morning at 8 A.M., I set to work in the gallery. I have 48 hours in which to paint the gallery room, all alone a stark white.


The nite of the show:


At 8 P.M. I go to La Coupole to get the blue cocktail prepared especially for the exhibition.


At 9 P.M. Arrival of the members of the Garde Republicans, in full dress uniform arrive. I immediately offer them a Blue cocktail. They take up their post under the canopy at the entrance, standing at attention.


At 9:30 P.M. The place is jammed. Outside, the growing crowd begins to have difficulty getting inside.


At 9:45 P.M. Restany arrives, accompanied by his wife.


At 9:50 P.M. Inside the gallery, I notice a young man drawing on one of the walls. I rush over to him, stop him, and politely but firmly ask him to leave. He is literally uprooted and disappears in the clutches of the guards.


At 10:00 P.M. The police arrive in 3 wagons.


At 10:10 P.M. Twenty-five hundred to 3,000 people are in the street; the police are trying to push back the crowd. The police demand and explanation as to why $3.oo is being charged to see nothing. (some people, furious at having paid the $3.oo went to complain to the police)


At 10:20 P.M. Arrival of the representative of the Order of Saint Sebastian in full regalia arrive.


At 10:30 P.M. The Gardes Republicans leave in disgust; for an hour students from the Beaux-Arts have been tapping them familiarly on the shoulder and asking them where they rented their costumes, and if they are movie extras!


At 10:50 P.M. The supply of blue cocktail now having been all consumed, cause a rush to La Coupole to get more. Arrival of two pretty Japanese girls in extraordinary kimonos.


At 11:00 P.M. The mob, which had been dispersed by the police and the firemen returns, in little exasperated groups. Inside everything is still swarming.


Half past midnight. We close and leave for La Coupole.


At 1:00 P.M. Trembling with fatigue, I deliver my revolutionary speech.


At 1:15 P.M. Iris conks out!


Planned for eight days, the exhibition has to be extended for an additional week. Every day, more than 200 visitors rush to the interior of the century.


The human experience is one of a vast and almost indescribable scope. Some cannot enter, as if prevented by an invisible wall. One of the visitors yells to me one day from the door,


I will be back when this void is full... I reply, When it is full you will not be able to come in.


Frequently people remain inside for hours without saying a word, and some tremble or begin to cry.


The day after the opening everyone that drank the blue cocktail urinates blue.


Art Minimal editors note: the above has been edited, the full text can be read in Yves Klein 1928-1962 - A Retrospective, Institute for the Arts, Rice University, Houston. Copyright 1982.

     Klein. "Le Vide" (1959)

Le Vide

Iris Clert vous convie à honorer, de toute votre présence affective, l’avènement lucide et positif

d’un certain règne du sensible.

Cette manifestation de synthèse perceptive sanctionne chez Yves Klein la quà te picturale d’une

emotion extatique et immédiatement communicable.

Lundi 28 Avril 1958, h. 21

Iris Clert, 3 rue des Beaux-Arts, Paris.


The Void

Iris Clert invites you to honor, with all your affective presence, the lucid and positive advent

of a certain reign of the sensitive.

This manifestation of perceptive synthesis confirms Yves Klein's pictorial quest for an

ecstatic and immediately communicable emotion.

Monday April 28, 9 pm. 1958

Iris Clert, 3 rue des Beaux-Arts, Paris.


Pierre Restany text stamped on the cardboard of invitation of the presentation Le Void to the Iris Clert Gallery, Paris.


Yves Klein  Stabilito che... (manifesto dell’Hotel Chelsea 1961)

Yves Klein - Werner Ruhnau  Progetto per un’architettura dell’aria (1958)

Yves Klein - Werner Ruhnau  Projet pour une architecture de l’air (1958)

Yves Klein  Ex-voto pour Sainte Rita de Cascia

Mariëtte van Stralen - Bart Lootsma  Occupation: Leisure!

André Verdet  Poem to Yves Klein (may 1962)

Anneliese Knorr  Das Musiktheater Gelsenkirchen

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