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Info about Klein


From: Pam (pgstephens_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Feb 27 2004 - 09:12:28 PST

I recently researched Blue Man Group and will have an article published
soon. I read quite a bit about Klein in order to make the interview/article
accurate. I suggest that as you develop your lesson, it is very appropriate
to look into what both artists are trying to convey; what their work means.
While BMG has a tendency to be very entertaining and seems lighthearted,
they have some highly thought-provoking ideas.

The solid-blue canvases of Klein were influential to BMG only as an
introduction to the artist and as a catalyst to their other pieces. Are you
thinking in terms of somehow replicating in your classroom the BMG piece
where the audience member is used as a paintbrush much like Klein's use of
models as paintbrushes in his ANT series? Performance is key to ANT pieces
as it is to many of the BMG pieces (although BMG shuns the label
'performance' and most critics do not label their later work as such.)

Content of BMG work is much deeper than what most viewers see. And while
they adamantly oppose the label "postmodern," they have strong postmodern
underpinnings of appropriation, art critical commentary, and diversity. One
of the biggest questions posed by the art of BMG is the postmodern idea of
'who can create art?'. Look at the their marshmallow ritual that
contrasts/compares this concept. Also the very being of BMG revolves around
this question. There are about 40 individual Blue Men in five permanent
sites in the US and Germany. The founding three members of BMG create the
material while the others perform it. Who's the artist?

Another aspect of BMG is synaesthesia, the blending of the senses so that
the viewer can hear color or see music.

Klein was very much interested in the color blue and even held a patent on a
certain color of blue (Klein Blue, naturally!), but he had lots of other
groundbreaking art ideas from which BMG borrowed. The Klein Blue canvases
lend themselves to the Blue Man's color and the Blue Man is somewhat a
living representation of a Klein canvas, but it goes a lot further than

Probably the best art connection between Klein and BMG is the element of
performance in art. You can see a heavy Klein influence upon the BMG stage
performances. Klein's wife saw the NYC stage production and said that BMG
art captured his spirit well.

If you really get into the background of BMG, you'll want to read "More than
Human." This is a novel from the 80s that gives insight into the BMG
concept of "Bleshing." (i.e., blending of three personalities into one).
Nicolas Charlet's book, "Ives Klein" is the best reference about the artist
that I found.

From a rainy Sedona,