Yves Klein used naked women as ‘human paintbrushes’. TateShots talked to one of his models about the experience.



Yves Klein used naked women as ‘human paintbrushes’ to make his ‘Anthropometry’ paintings, which were produced as elaborate performances in front of an audience. Klein, in bow-tie and suit, would conduct the women as they covered themselves in paint (a colour he patented as ‘International Klein Blue’) and made imprints of their bodies, whilst musicians played his ‘Monotone Symphony’ – a single note played for twenty minutes, followed by twenty minutes of silence.

TateShots talked to Elena Palumbo-Mosca, who modelled for Klein, and who appears in footage of one such performance currently being shown in the exhibition A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance, at Tate Modern.


I would like to underline that in fact Yves never used the expression "living brushes". Somebody else (perhaps Pierre Restany ?) imagined it later on. Yves Klein had the utmost respect for his friends (also men) who were interested in participating to this extraordinary experience - especially when he also used water and fire besides IKB, gold and pink. For him we were collaborators. The only exception was the film "Mondo cane", where the "Empreintes" were made by persons hired by the film director.