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July 28, 2004

Vik Muniz v. Yves Klein

Yves Klein: Venus BleueWith Vision 9 on Friday the 9th, Chicago's CADA galleries uttered a collective "eh..." as they sent us slip-sliding into summer siesta season on the back of the annual cavalcade of group shows. Among these is The Weakest Link, a pretty decent affair at Alan Koppel through August 27th. Aside from the usual abundance of Edward Lipski's black sculpture and a heavy dose of photos (Arbus, Sander, Evans, Sugimoto, et alia), Koppel presents a nifty pair of works in Yves Klein's Venus Bleue and Vik Muniz's After Yves Klein (from Pictures of Color).

Vik Muniz: After Yves Klein (from Pictures of Color)Klein's blue Venus of course radiates with his trademark (rather, patented) International Klein Blue. The Muniz piece, characteristic of his vampiric tendencies, gleans its substance from its reference to Klein's. I do like some of Muniz's work, but this piece just lacks the perceptual punch that characterizes his best stuff. Indeed, the limitations of conceptual cleverness could hardly be more aptly illustrated.

For his part, Yves Klein was certainly nothing if not a consummate clever boy. Yet anytime I view one of the proto-Conceptualist's IKB works I can't help but feel, if nothing else, that there is sincerity in his claim that color is "materialized sensibility," that his blue is indeed the pure color of space, "without dimensions." Muniz simply latches onto the notion of trademarked color, however, and responds with a flat Cibachrome image (a three-color process) of a grid of tiled swatches of Pantone Blue 072 U and Pantone Reflex Blue U (proprietary spot colors), ostensibly as a representation of Klein's IKB (a patented ultramarine formulation), unable to in any respect do justice to the intensity of Klein's color and thus the power bearing forth his concept. Whether this is because of a simple lack of sensitivity or if it is due to the shift across proprietary color models (and whether this was the 'point'), I couldn't say. But, while such questions may (in a very limited way) be thought-provoking in themselves, I do know that in any estimation Vik's photo just ain't all that electric. And so he misses half the story.

Yves Klein: IKB Patent (#63471)

"Vik Muniz v. Yves Klein"
Posted by Dan at 01:36 PM

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Referenced in this post:

Alan Koppel
Artcyclopedia: Yves Klein
Chicago Art Dealers Association: Vision
Vik Muniz