International Klein Blue

ON MAY 19, 1960, the French Patent Office issued patent number 63471, protecting the applicant’s rights in connection with the invention of IKB.


It was issued to French artist, Yves Klein, for the invention of a color.

IKB in RGB (0, 47, 167) CMYK (98, 84, 0, 0)

In 1960, Klein created and patented the ultramarine color known as International Klein Blue or IKB. He invented the paint with the help of a chemical retailer by suspending pure, dry pigment in crystal-clear synthetic resin and compatible solvents (ether and petroleum). Unlike traditional binders, the new colorless carrier did not dull the individual particles of pigment, but left them with their original brightness and intensity.

It was this process for which he was granted a patent.

The novel medium was versatile enough to be brushed, sprayed, rolled, or even thickened and built up on a surface. It quickly dried to a fragile-looking but durable matte finish that, like velvet, offered a plush, light-absorbent surface that seemed to dissolve into a dark, glowing liquid depth.

In the years leading up to 1960 Yves Klein had been refining his use of color, striving to capture a shade of blue that would encompass his entire experience - eradicating the horizon and combining the earth and the sky, laying bare the range of his own emotions, unlocking an experience of the endless void of space, but the right blue was hard to find.

Whenever he found a pigment that satisfied him, the process of mixing it with any agent in order to apply it to a canvas changed the shade and destroyed the effect.

Klein attributed a particular role to the color blue, which embodied for him the most abstract aspects of tangible and visible nature, such as the sky and the sea.

He made unique work that vacillated between the organic and inorganic; for example, relief sculptures using sea sponges.

Yves Klein - Table designed 1961
International Klein Blue pigment, glass, plexiglass and steel.
36 x 125 x 100 cm; 14.17 x 49.21 x 39.37 in.


In his body paintings, or anthropometries, Klein wanted to record the body's physical energy. These body prints on canvas reminded him of the imprints left on the judo mat after one participant has fallen in a contest. In creating his anthropometries, Klein used the human body as a "living paint brush." Bathing his models in his signature International Klein Blue paint, he directed them to press and drag their bodies across paper and canvas, leaving impressions of IKB paint. The resulting images are not only likenesses of the models but also represent their temporary physical presence.

On several occasions, Klein created an anthropometry painting before an audience gathered at a gallery. While an orchestra played the artist's one chord "Monotone Symphony," Klein, dressed in a tuxedo and white gloves, directed models smeared with IKB to lie, twist, drag, sit, or roll on canvas or paper until the desired effects had been realized.

Monotone Symphony WAV

Believing that these performances demonstrated a new way of creating art, Klein aimed at aesthetic distance by avoiding the psychological dimension of the artist's touch:


In this way I stayed clean. I no longer dirtied myself with color, not even the tips of my fingers. The work finished itself there in front of me, under my direction, in absolute collaboration with the model. And I could salute its birth into the tangible world in a dignified manner, dressed in a tuxedo...By this demonstration, or rather technique, I especially wanted to tear down the temple veil of the studio. I wanted to keep nothing of my process hidden.

The PEUGEOT 1007 Yves Klein

PEUGEOT Germany auctioned this limited edition model  at eBay in 2005 and donated proceeds  to the "Fondation Claude Pompidou" for the support of the mentally handicapped.