Yves Klein: Blenheim Palace’s fusty furnishings feel the shock of the blue

Ai Weiwei’s crabs, Lawrence Weiner’s texts, Michelangelo Pistoletto’s smashed mirrors and Jenny Holzer’s redacted military documents have all given the baroque pile of Blenheim Palace – home to the dukes of Marlborough and birthplace of Winston Churchill – a jolt over the past few years. Inviting living artists to insinuate their works into this world heritage site, major tourist attraction and stately home is one thing. Mounting what the Blenheim Art Foundation insists is the most comprehensive exhibition of Yves Klein in Britain to date is another.

The huge rectangle of ultramarine pigment on the floor of the large entrance hall, a recreation of a 1957 Pure Pigment installation, is ravishing – a bottomless visual pool for the eye, thrumming across the floor. Klein died from a heart attack in 1962, at the age of 35. Had he lived, he would have been 90 this year. Later, we come to a large canvas covered in the same adulterated ultramarine, a colour Klein managed to patent as International Klein Blue (IKB). It is his signature colour, representing the void. The void at the heart of this show is also unavoidable.


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