POST BY KAREN ARCHEY
Sherrie Levine, Melt Down (After Yves Klein), 1991
We’re not sure if anyone picked up on Sherrie Levine’s subtle art history quip in Daniel Birnbaum’s expansive Italian Pavilion, so we’re going to do what no one should ever attempt: explain the joke to you. Found in a room consisting primarily of Minimalist abstraction, Levine titled her set of monochromes Melt Down (After Yves Klein). For those not in the know, Yves Klein patented his own brand of ultramarine blue, “International Klein Blue,” consisting of azure pigment suspended in clear synthetic resin. Klein’s pigment paintings, usually shortened to IKB, generally fetch anywhere from $500,000 to over $15,000,000.
Yves Klein, untitled, 1957, pigment on wood, 3 3/8 x 2 7/8 x 5/8 in. Includes certificate YKB – 5. Sean Kelly Gallery at Art Basel
Pithily titled Melt Down (After Yves Klein), Levine’s set of monochromes poke fun at Yves Klein’s identification with IKB by presenting 8 variously colored canvases. If Yves Klein’s character can be certifiably represented by one color, IKB, Sherrie Levine presents a schizophrenic “melt down” by offering many colors or identities. Personally, we’re feeling a little black today due to Basel being so expensive!