photo of an extended hand with a dark royal blue long sleeve, photographed in front of a Yves Klein blue background, with ultramarine blue paint splashed all over it and a golden all-finger ring on her finger

Yves Klein blue: the inspiration behind our Electric Blue paint

By Iona Bower on

You may or may not know that the iconic ultramarine blue shade known as ‘Yves Klein Blue’ was one of the inspirations behind YesColours’ Electric Blue (along with Frida Kahlo’s house and the Majorelle Garden). But if you didn’t, now you do. We’ve put together a few facts about the shade that might just inspire you to use it inside (or outside) your own home. 

First, meet the man who changed 'blue'.

Yves Klein was a French artist known for his conceptual art, which included abstract work, performance and even collage. He helped found the Nouveau Realisme movement, which was the European answer to Pop Art, and, perhaps more importantly, he invented the unforgettable International Klein Blue (IKB).


black and white portrait of a man with hair covering his forehead, dressed in a white formal shirt, black vest and a black bowtie, having his right hand coloured in a vibrant blue colour with spreading all five fingers

Portrait of Yves Klein made on the occasion of the shooting of Peter Morley "The Heartbeat of France", February 1961 Studio of Charles Wilp, Düsseldorf, Germany | © Photo : Charles Wilp / BPK, Berlin | via

Klein was not big on the sky.

He once said that the sky was his first artwork. We think the sky itself is doing a lot of the heavy lifting there, but we’re going with it. He was heavily inspired by Giotto’s blue skies which he went to see in the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi. 

Yves Klein blue is, like, BLUER than blue.

If Guinness did blue, this is the blue it would be. Klein invented and then patented ‘International Klein Blue’, which was a shade of pure ultramarine. He claimed IKB was ‘pure space’ and felt it to contain values far beyond what could be seen or touched. In 1957 he described IKB as ‘a blue in itself, disengaged from all functional justification.’ We’re starting to get lost here, but this sounds Pretty Blue Indeed, and that’s the feel we wanted to recreate with our own Electric Blue Paint.


And it feels really blue too.

It honestly does. Go and stand in front of one of Klein’s monochromes and you’ll see what we mean. He used all kinds of techniques to make IKB a feeling as well as a visual feast. Much of this is down to texture; Klein stretched his canvases over a wood backing that had been treated with milk protein, which helped paint stick to the surface as it was rollered on. He mixed the paint itself with a highly volatile fixative, which, in combination with the milk protein, gives his monochromes that really INTENSE feel.

You might feel pretty intense yourself if you’d been stuck in a room breathing in casein and highly volatile fixatives, we imagine. Once dry, these canvases gave the illusion of the paint hovering just above the surface, and looking as though they would feel velvety to the touch. 


The IKB monochromes are legion.

Klein’s widow numbered all his blue monochromes following his death in 1962. She made it from IKB 1 up to IKB 194 and there were probably more in circulation. Imagine them all in one room!


On the one hand, International Klein Blue was all about doing one thing well.

Klein wanted to represent the infinite in his work and one way he did this was by covering an entire canvas with his International Klein Blue, as described above. He wanted the viewer to feel immersed in the colour. (This is why we so often recommend drenching every wall of a room in our Electric Blue; you sort of have to be immersed in it in order to appreciate it fully). Klein described monochrome painting as “an open window to freedom”, as if you might be able to jump right through it (don’t try this at home). We love the simplicity of only ever using one colour at a time (and the lack of need to wash your paint tray. Genius.)


On the other, it was all about using colour in new ways.

Several of Klein’s monochrome works were far from simple canvases. Some were performance art, where he covered naked models in paint and had them roll and sprawl across canvases. A bold move, and not one we’d have tried, but then that’s what sets artistic geniuses apart. It’s said he was inspired by his love of Judo and the idea of bodies moving across the floor as paint brushes. He also used the blue to impregnate various objects, including sponges and plaster casts. Like we say, it’s new, and definitely unusual, very much like YesColours’ Electric Blue.


photo of an extended hand with a dark royal blue long sleeve, photographed in front of a Yves Klein blue background, with ultramarine blue paint splashed all over it and a golden all-finger ring on her finger

We didn't invent the Yves Klein Blue colour but we've managed to recreate this vibrant ultramarine blue shade as both interior and exterior paint. Welcome to the world of YesColours' Electric Blue colour!


Need some handy tips on how to style this surreal ultramarine blue paint colour in your home? Check out what our Lead Colour Consultant - Emily, has in her big back of secrets.


We hope these home decor tips have inspired you to get your hands on our bestselling Electric Blue paint colour and try it yourself. And hey, if you still need some help, feel free to book a colour consultation with us and we’ll sort your colour puzzle in no time. Free option is available too!

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