T01513: Yves Klein IKB 79 or Tate Modern keeps on getting it wrong
Two details of the postcards
In 1957, Yves Klein patented 'International Klein Blue', which he went on to use in several of his monochrome paintings and sculptures. Within the Tate Gallery collection is IKB 79, 1959, (Tate Gallery reference - T01513) a painted canvas of 139.7 x 119.7 x 3.2 cm of this ultramarine colour. Within the shops at Tate Modern reproductions were sold as posters and postcards.
Over a number of years, Paul Jex would buy several of these postcards however, on one occasion he found that a postcard had a printing error on it. Looking through the remaining postcards he found that several others had issues with the quality of the print. Whether these included blemishes – which can be described as a ‘white firework’ or minute red rings of 2mm diameter. Over several years, he would visit the Tate Modern to see if he could find more inaccurate reproductions. These poor reproductions of Klein’s IKB 79, which the Tate Modern had been selling were further undermined as once viewed together the postcards had two distinctive tones of blue. In addition, several of the postcards that Jex had found had the bevelled corners of IKB 79 edited, cropped and replaced with right angles.
T01513: Yves Klein IKB79 or Tate Modern keeps on getting it wrong, 2016 is an installation of these postcards, each with a flaw which when brought together en masse share differences of printing qualities and a failure of Tate Modern to capture and sell a reproduction. Each of these postcards, in Jex's collection have their own reference number written in pencil on the back detailing the purchase date.
In 2017, with a survey of Klein's work at Tate Liverpool, Jex visited the exhibition to buy more of these postcards however none were on sale. In the same year, visiting Tate Modern the gallery had informed him that the postcards were withdrawn from sale.
Image courtesy of KARST, Plymouth