Yves Klein Was Blue and That Made Virginia Dwan Happy

THE DAILY PIC: Coming to the National Gallery, a survey of the career of dealer Virginia Dwan, one of Yves Klein's greatest backers.

THE DAILY PIC (#1635): This could hardly be anything other than a Blue Monochrome by Yves Klein, this one an iteration from 1960 that was acquired by the American dealer Virginia Dwan, out of the landmark show she gave Klein in Los Angeles in 1961. The painting will take a star turn in the big Dwan exhibition that opens at the end of this month at the National Gallery in Washington, surveying her career as a dealer and the art she acquired over its course, much of which is now headed for the NGA collection.

When I interviewed Dwan the other month, for a profile appearing this coming weekend in the New York Times, she told a nice little story about having first come across Klein’s work by accident as she was strolling along the posh rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, spotting it in the window of a gallery that was closed. “I just stood there staring at it, because it was very hypnotic,” Dwan told me. She came back the next day and at once arranged to give Klein his solo in her own new gallery.

I’m convinced that Klein had a bigger influence on American art of the ’60s than is usually acknowledged. His monochromes are often linked to the “spiritual” 1950s abstractions of Mark Rothko and Ad Reinhardt, but I’ve argued that they have an absurdist and conceptual streak that brings them closer to some of the wackier work of the following decade. That makes Dwan’s show of Klein’s work even more prescient and important than we might have thought. (Dwan Collection, New York; © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris)

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

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