Not Calvin, not Yves – Easy Klein is the latest pigment to democratise colour from artist Stuart Semple
If you think of Calvin Klein, chances are a thick elasticated pants waistband or frosted bottle of cK1 springs to mind, if you were about 14 in the year 2000.
No matter what your age, it's likely that if you know the name Yves Klein, you know the artist is synonymous with a very distinct shade of vibrant blue, one that feels so deep as to be almost pulsating. The problem is, no matter how much you love that blue, the artist—selfishly, some might argue—decreed that no one else was allowed to use his signature IKB colour.
There's one contemporary artist who has little time for such colour hoarding, as he's proved time and again with projects like his take on Anish Kapoor's black, and that's Stuart Semple. The latest colour to continue his drive to democratise paint is his 'Incredibly Kleinish Blue', Easy Klein which comes in a packaging design, not unlike a certain fashion house's famed Y2K scent.
Many in the art community have been talking about blue over the last few months since the newly-discovered YInMn Blue was made available as a modern version of Yves Klein's famed tone. However, it was being sold for a whopping $200 a bottle.
Semple's response was to do away with both that prohibitive pricing and Klein's legal protection of his blue which stated in 1960 that other artists would require permission to use it. According to Culture Hustle, which is selling Semple's new easy to use, acrylic paint version, it has "an uncanny scent of CK One."
"Due to legal reasons, I can't tell you our blue is IKB, International Klein Blue, but what I can say is that it's an Incredibly Kleinish Blue," says Semple. "In my mind, it's the most beautiful blue ever and, although YinMin is cool, a lot of us have always dreamed of having a go on IKB."
This project follows Semple's creation of "the world's pinkest pink", which he shared it online and required purchasers to confirm that they were not Anish Kapoor, or an associate of Anish Kapoor, a reaction to Kapoor’s exclusive artistic rights to create work Vantablack, the world’s blackest black, absorbing nearly 99% of visible light and rendering objects into black holes. Semple went on to create Black 3.0, "the world's blackest paint," which he made available to hundreds of thousands of artists around the world on a not-for-profit basis.
"Since we made a version of a super black, light-absorbing paint for artists, I've been obsessed with formulating a Kleinish blue," says Semple. "I saw Klein's works as a teenager and was always obsessed with that super flat blue. It's really deep and really beautiful. There's something very magical about it. I'm so excited to see what artists create now we’ve finally opened this up."