Yves Klein was born April 28, 1928, in Nice. From 1942 to 1946, he studied at the Ecole Nationale de la Marine Marchande and the Ecole Nationale des Langues Orientales and began practicing judo. At this time, he became friends with Arman Fernandez and Claude Pascal and started to paint. Klein composed his first Symphonie monoton in 1947. During the years 1948 to 1952, he traveled to Italy, Great Britain, Spain, and Japan. In 1955, Klein settled permanently in Paris, where he was given a solo exhibition at the Club des Solitaires. His monochrome paintings were shown at the Galerie Colette Allendy, Paris, in 1956.
The artist entered his blue period in 1957; this year a double exhibition of his work was held at the Galerie Iris Clert and the Galerie Colette Allendy, both in Paris. In 1958, he began using nude models as “living paintbrushes.” Also in that year, he undertook a project for the decoration of the entrance hall of the new opera house in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. The first manifesto of the group Nouveaux Réalistes was written in 1960 by Pierre Restany and signed by Arman, Klein, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, and others. In 1961, Klein was given a retrospective at the Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany, and his first solo exhibition in the United States at the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York. He and architect Claude Parent collaborated that year on the design for fountains of water and fire, Les Fontaines de Varsovie, for the Palais de Chaillot, Paris. In 1962, Klein executed a plaster cast of Arman and took part in the exhibition Antagonismes 2: L’Objet at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. Shortly before his death he appeared in the film Mondo Cane (1962). Klein died suddenly on June 6, 1962, in Paris.