The Good Old Days

Aaah, the sixties.

Flower Power, Stop the Vietnam War, free love, and an artist could use almost anything as the brush – including naked women.

Apparently the idea of painting using the form and movement of the body first came to Klein while practicing judo.

A 1960 work by the French conceptual artist Yves Klein is expected to fetch $10 million (£6.7m) at an auction at Christie’s in New York. ‘ANT 93, Le Buffalo’ was painted using a naked female as a brush.’
source: The Independent Newspaper, Friday March 5 2010 (page 19)

“Measuring some nine feet across, this breathtaking piece is being offered at auction for the first time. One of the best works from his “Anthropometrie” series which involved applying paint using the bodies of naked female models, often referred to as “living brushes”, this masterpiece is truly a class apart. The process of creating his unique paintings was also quite queer. Apparently, Klein would dress in evening wear and white gloves and conduct the production of his painting to the accompaniment of an orchestra playing “Symphonie Monotone”. Christie’s has also reproduced a photograph of the painting hanging on the artist’s sitting room wall in his Paris apartment. The painting promises to be the star attraction of Christie’s postwar and contemporary sale scheduled to take place on May 11.” – Luxury Launches

Actually it still happens in some Diploma Visual Arts exhibitions.

Not , of course, the flower power and the free love etc, but the tell-tale smears of paint left by a body rolling and sometimes dancing on large sheets of paper or canvas.

Every so often I am confronted with large sheets of paper taped together, and covered with the imprints of the candidate’s body (sometimes naked, sometimes partially naked) – or occasionally with imprints of the candidate’s friends bodies – in a Kleinesque artwork.
Well, it could be part of a demonstration of  “personally relevant artworks that show excellent exploration of ideas reflecting cultural and historical awareness and artistic qualities”, and it could be a demonstration of “confidence and inventiveness” (visual arts assessment descriptors).

Using a slightly different technique, another visual arts student, whose experience of years of domineering and relentless ballet instruction that left scars on her psyche, dipped her toes into paint and danced her way across the canvas – as one of a number of statements about ballet in her final exhibition.

See also YouTube “Yves Klein – Blue Women Art – 1962”
(2m58 seconds)

1 Comment
  • Greg Morgan
    April 26, 2010

    I’ve used my 1969 VW beetle to paint fabric for a friend’s fashion project. Lawrence Gowing used to suspend himself naked in front of a vertical canvas like a stencil/mask and have his students spray paint at him leaving a spread-eagled silhouette rather like Rembrandt’s slaughtered ox – eat your heart out Banksy!

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