Yves Klein, Table Bleue (Blue Table), 1963
Smart Museum of Art
I’m Orianna Cacchione, co-curator of this exhibition. I sat down with Robert Buford in his home to talk about this table created by Yves Klein, that he generously lent to this exhibition. Robert has all three of Klein’s tables, each in one of his signature colors: gold, pink, and, here, in his most infamous, International Klein Blue. I wanted to know what it was like to live with this table filled with the legendary blue pigment. But first, I wanted to hear how it was installed.
I was curious as to how it would go. When it arrived at my residence, they had to build a tent, they had to put like a protective gear on, like a fire suit or a spacesuit or something like that. They had a filter that filter the air, they were I guess safe in case there was any accident in which the toxic powder would get free. But it took two men, I believe, probably the better part of the afternoon, four or five, six hours to move the table into place. And then to take the powder which was in a bag for transport and place it into the table and re-cover it, put the table top back on it. It was a lengthy process.
That’s one of the things I would have never expected about this table. You have to actually put the pigment in, that you have to distribute, it you have to make sure it’s even and balanced. I would have never imagined that that’s how you put these together.
I, too, probably didn’t think about it and and then when I get more into it like, yeah, it’s gonna take four or five hours really tell me the process. And the distribution of that pigment, of course requires the installation team to be very careful, number one, and then I think it’s probably a matter of trial and error to get things positioned.
How would you describe that positioning?
It’s not random. I mean, there’s there’s a goal, there’s an objective, but it’s an irregular surface. But it’s pigment. It’s soft, it’s delicate, it’s not like it’s sharp objects, it’s in some respects it might be inviting, if you didn’t know it was toxic. It’s a good reason to keep the top secured. And we use the tables I mean this is as you can see here today. Drinks, snacks, conversation. We, this one here sits in front of a television. So it’s just like any other coffee table, except this it’s a work of art, love it.
Long Image DescriptionLong descriptions are text versions of the information provided in a detailed or complex image, like the image above.
Yves Klein’s coffee table is here photographed from above: a long edge is positioned closest to the camera with two steel table legs just visible below. The simple construction of the table – with its rectangular, clear acrylic top – highlights the electric pigment encased within. Held within the clear table-top, the raw material of the pigment has shifted to create hills, valleys, and organic piles. The blue pigment covers the bottom of the glass enclosure; there are no gaps or spots of negative space. Piled in this manner, the pigment creates the illusion of a solid material; even though the table-top is clear, the viewer cannot see through the top of the table to the ground beneath it. The organic nature of the piled IKB (International Klein Blue) pigment contrasts against the clean geometric lines of the table. The table is positioned on a low white platform that rests on a white terrazzo floor.