How Yves Klein Tricked the World with This Iconic Photograph
by Jacqui Palumbo Jan 2, 2020 2:30pm
“Saut dans le Vide”, 1960
Snip from article
On a brisk morning in November 1960, Parisians were greeted with a special four-page newspaper placed alongside the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche. It was not a paper known to anyone, and its front page featured a smartly dressed man frozen in curvilinear form, having just flung himself from a second-story roof onto the cement sidewalk below. “A man in space!” the headline proclaimed, announcing the newcomer’s victory over the heated international space race. “The painter of space leaps into the void!”
The man was avant-garde artist Yves Klein, and it was his own satirical publication featuring his now-famous image Leap into the Void (1960). It was easy, at the time, to take the photograph at face value—that Klein was abandoning himself to gravity. In truth, Klein’s wife and friends were holding a tarpaulin to catch his falling body. The magician’s illusion was executed off the scene by photographers Harry Shunk and Jean Kender. In a darkroom, they composited an image of the empty street with one of the artist’s fall.
Leap into the Void was unprecedented in photography. While photographers like Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson used “straight” photography to seek emotional truths, Klein harnessed the inherent malleability of the medium’s veracity. Leap was a modern-day legend. For decades after his untimely death in 1962, the story behind the image was hotly disputed, and some accounts still differ today.
Klein would have never admitted to trickery, though he was winking between every line of his newspaper. “Today the painter of space must, in fact, go into space to paint, but he must go there without trickery or deception,” he wrote. “He must be capable of levitation.”…
Artsy has some of the most interesting art articles on the web. Seldom disappointed with them. I’ve read a number of photo articles by Jacqui Palumbo. She writes top-shelf material. I have no connection to Artsy.