YVES KLEIN - possibly the artist most linked to the colour blue... he even invented his own shade!
Here's a snapshot bio/about Klein →
(read more on his official website)
Yves Klein is best known for his Anthropometry series, where he used naked females as 'human paintbrushes' to create large scale paintings replicating the body's form and movements.
I first saw Klein's works in Paris in 2008, but never really committed the name to memory (I've never been terribly good at remembering artist's names... that's why we have Google!), he probably came up in Art History at school or uni, and I know I saw further works which I didn't link to his Anthropometry series. I've seen hundreds of blatant rip-offs of his style by armature artists, often just for personal use, that I had dismissed the idea of trying something in this visual for so long. But as I began to follow and explore more "draw this in your style" challenges on Instagram, I started to be slightly less of a dick about stealing an idea and making it your own - because after all, the first thing they teach you at art school is that no idea is original.
So, I decided to tackle one of the greats - my way.
I'd been looking into a way to produce nudes in a different way - to represent the naked body, but I wanted it to be real, accurate and honest... I started looking up body prints, and there he was everywhere (or people embracing his style): Klein, and his big sexy blue body prints.
Well fuck. That's it! I'd wanted to play around more with wet cyanotypes, and why start small and safe when I could go ALL IN and make a huge fucking mess that may just result in something beautiful... and my oh my, didn't it just!
It's technically the reverse of his methods; using the female body as a paintbrush to apply paint directly to a plain surface, while my way is using the plain body (... albeit wet) to remove/alter the 'paint' from the 'painted' surface.
If you know me well, you know that I am an absolute SUCKER for wordplay - so to be starting a project inspired by/ in response to Yves Klein that involved laying down.... How could I not call it RE:KLEIN !?!?
In my new project RE:KLEIN I am starting to produce works inspired by Klein's Anthropometry series, but taking on the role as artist and model - taking the control back to the female.
NOTE: I'm pretty sure this is really really dangerous, so PLEASE don't try it at home!
I was super careful to have my washing set-up at the ready, and scrubbed myself thoroughly to make sure all the mixture was removed from my body.
Here's a video about it all:
This project fascinated and seriously fulfilled me - because it wasn't just about the chemical reaction of light hitting light-sensitive material... it was about physically changing chemistry - with my wet body. Disrupting the process, and in theory 'ruining' or fucking up the materials before the actual exposure - to reveal an image that isn't really there!
The body as a paintbrush, but more than that - the body, captured in a moment, like a kiss on a window that lingers, but this doesn't wash away.
I find it all very exciting!
ROUND ONE [30/06/21]
Nervous... but excited!
I wasn't sure at all how wet to be (...stop it).
I had the shower running and the pre-coated paper on the floor ready. I'd vaguely measured my torso against the page so I sort of knew where to kneel to delicately (ha, not) lay down on the page when wet.
A fair amount of bleeding - water that is - around certain crevices.... But I was amazed by the level of detail copied over to the final piece. If you look closely, you can see pores and hair follicles, and even stretch marks! I tell you what, it's bloody magic - witchcraft!
FUN FACT - someone got in touch to let me know that if you flip the image upside down, the markings of my belly button look like an Egyptian third eye symbol! I can't explain to you how much I love everything about this. (though I think it possibly looks more like it, up the right way)
The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol known all around the world. It symbolises healing, protection, rejuvenation, rebirth, resurrection and wholeness.
ROUND TWO [05/07/21]
In this second experiment session, I decided to go and put my bloooody face on it.
I feel some serious 'lost at sea' vibes coming through in this piece. Likely influenced by having #SongToTheSiren (the @wolfaliceband cover) blasting on my shower speaker while I made it - I just kept adding water. It almost looks like she's drowning - but doesn't need rescuing.
Just the one print on this day... keeping things simple (and there was only one more sheet pre-coated). I took a big fat risk here, and decided to see what magic might be created with applying my damp face to the page as well as my body... and I think she paid off! There's a definite SQUASH visual on where I've really clearly tried a little too hard to make sure enough of my face came into contact with the page - I didn't want just a cheek, so there was a fair amount of squashing, rolling and weird neck contorting to make sure this much made it to the processed piece.
Again, the level of detail just astounded me - the pores, the hair follicles, the lines on my hands - all of it.
I'm honestly so happy with her, I left this exposing for about two hours, and tried sploshing a massive glug of white vinegar before the peroxide gave it some stunning turquoise tones amongst the deep royals.
I was disappointed that having gone through the effort to include my damp hair, that it didn't come through more clearly --- you only really get one go at this, and I needed to keep my right eye shut due to the potential contact with the chemicals, and get my arse back in that shower PRONTO. Also I just don't like washing my hair too often - ha.
I put these images on Pinterest and all the suggested "visually similar" images were jellyfish - and you know what, I'm happy with that. My tits look like jellyfish.
ROUND THREE [11/07/21]
In this experiment session, I decided to see how wet fabric affected the cyanotype mix.
And yes, I could have tried it with just fabric, and not my entire body... but where's the fun in that!
So I hopped in the shower for experiment #1, and flopped myself onto the paper with FAR too much water on my body --- so it sort of just flooded the paper, and I wasn't sure if I should try and mop it up - but my priority was to get back in that shower and rid myself of chemicals...
After that I slipped my favourite lacy undies over my already wet body - I wanted to try a version where the fabric wasn't too wet, so I misted myself with a plant spritzer bottle (the glamour!) and lay down to produce THE most beautifully intricate wet cyanotype I have ever seen!
I honestly had no idea that the lace would transfer like that - it was BEAUTIFUL! I already have a habit of talking to myself, so I spent the rest of the day just in awe saying things like "I'm actually fucking brilliant", "God, I'm good", "I'm bloody brilliant!" - and I think we can all agree, that we all need more days like that!
For experiment #3 I had already leapt back into the shower in the undies, so went for another undies one, which proved my theory above correct, as this was again just a bit too wet... there was still a large amount of detail in the bra transfer, but nowhere near as wonderfully as in the previous attempt. And as with the first print that day, there was some flooding on the paper - I guess I'd forgotten to dance quite as much in this session to shake the drops away, or perhaps I was just less hesitant. Anyway, the flooding happened, and I made sure not to get too disappointed as I hopped back into the shower for the final scrub down to insure my body, face and hair were completely free of the sensitiser.
By the time I got the prints back to the studio, the third print had bled into what sort of resembled a mermaid tail (albeit very squashed) so I thought "fuck it!" and decided to embrace that as a theme. Of course, I just happened to have some seaweed hanging up in the lab, so quickly gave it a little soak and sploshed it liberally about the paper... then some shells... and some seaglass... yes, I got carried away. I don't really think it's appropriate to be reserved and subtle when it comes to a semi-dangerous nude-ish mermaid self-portrait ... wouldn't you agree?
When it came to finally washing and processing these giant sheets... I got a little cocky and keen, and the one I had been the most excited for, caught on the bathplug chain and tore - devistated for a second, I chose to go with it, trying to hold it together (in every way) and hope for the best - well, during the peroxide soak and with all the lifting to and from, she ripped... fuck. But you can't deny she's still beautiful, we all live with the scars of our process.....
So, as I said, it was all a little reckless and potentially very dangerous... so I only made a few. I would really like to make more, but I'll be more cautious this time, do a little more research into the chemicals and any hazards.
Other ways to body print: I've been looking into other ways to bodyprint, which could then be used to form the image exposed on the cyanotype. I.e. flour or paint on Perspex - something where a substance would be altered or removed with contact on the body, allowing the light to reach the sensitised surface.
But nothing quite comes close to the level of detail achieved in this mirror image print process so far. I'm certainly not ready to put anyone else's body at risk to model for me as I've asked in the video...
For now, these big blue beauties are hanging on my studio wall, I need to properly photograph them soon, and potentially scan them if I can find someone with a big enough scanner...
I'm so fucking proud of myself for this project, even if it leads nowhere - because I thought outside the box, took a risk, and really surprised myself... though deep down, I knew I'd pull it off.
Recently someone emailed me about the project, having seen my video on YouTube, with their varying comments on what they'd seen & concerns about my continuing the project. It was lovely to read that someone had liked my project so much that they were suggesting ways they thought I could continue it safely - but there's still a lot of thinking to do to try and replicate these incredible results safely.
I'd love to know what you think - so please let me know if you have any ideas or feedback on what you've seen.
Liberty & the nudes x