Blenheim Palace Will Host the Largest-Ever Yves Klein Show in the UK This Summer

A major exhibition of the late French artist’s work will transform the great country house in England.

Portrait of Yves Klein during the shooting the documentary of Peter Morley "The Heartbeat of France". Studio of Charles Wilp, Dusseldorf, Germany, February 1961. Copyright Charles Wilp / BPK, Berlin.

Houghton Hall might have recently developed a rash of Damien Hirst spots, but this summer Blenheim Palace will turn Yves Klein blue when the French artist’s work transforms another of England’s great 18th-century country houses. The money and land to build the stately home near Oxford was given to Winston Churchill’s ancestor, the First Duke of Marlborough, by a grateful nation after his famous defeat of the French at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704.

Blenheim Palace. Photo by Pete Seaward.

“Yves Klein at Blenheim Palace,” which is due to open July 18, follows summer exhibitions in the historic house by major living artists, including Jenny Holzer, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Ai Weiwei. Organized by the Blenheim Art Foundation and the artist’s estate, the exhibition will feature around 50 works by Klein, making it the largest show of the French artist’s work in the UK.

Daniel Moquay, the manager of the Yves Klein Archives, who is also the husband of Klein’s widow, said in a statement that it will present the artist’s work “in a totally different environment from the usual exhibitions that we organize.” The Klein show will include a large-scale blue pigment installation, and works from his famous series: “Monochrome Paintings,” “Fire Paintings,” plus works created with “living models,” as well as classically inspired sculptures coated in the artist’s signature blue, IKB.

Yves Klein, Blue Venus, (S 41) (1962). Copyright the artist’s estate, ADAGP, Paris / DACS, London, 2018.

Michael Frahm, the director of the Blenheim Art Foundation, says that Klein was “a clear choice: his radical work changed the course of modern art in the 1950s and early 1960s, and his practice remains as relevant today as it was during his meteoric lifetime.” The exhibition marks what would have been the French artist’s 90th birthday. John Churchill, the First Duke might be turning in his grave, however, or atop the victory column in the grounds.

“Yves Klein at Blenheim Palace,” runs from July 18 through October 7, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire. 

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