Klaus Ottmann

Lecture 3: Yves Klein Le Philosophe


The lecture will attempt to describe the intellectual milieu of one of the most influential artists of our time: Yves Klein, also known as Yves le monochrome, the painter of monochrome blue paintings. Klein was an agitator of ideas, who used his considerable charisma to propagate social change through art. Like most artists, Klein was a “conceptual personality.” When he theorized about his artistic practice, he did so by speculating out of a general milieu that included philosophical, scientific, and political ideas. With his writings and public talks, as with his art, Klein intended to promote his vision of a future of absolute artistic and social freedom and his belief in “le grand Art absolu et total,” the great, absolute, and total Art.

Klaus Ottman.jpg

Klaus Ottmann is the Curator-at-Large and Director of the Center for the Study of Modern Art at The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC. He has curated over forty exhibitions, including Life, Love, and Death: The Works of James Lee Byars (2004), Wolfgang Laib: A Retrospective (2000–2002), and Still Points of the Turning World: SITE Santa Fe's Sixth International Biennial (July 2006–January 2007). He is currently working on monographic exhibitions of works by Rackstraw Downes and Jennifer Bartlett for The Parrish Art Museum, scheduled to open in 2010 and 2011. Ottmann received a M.A. in philosophy from the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany in 1980 and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the Division of Media and Communications at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland in 2002. He is also the editor-in-chief of Spring Publications, Inc., a small publishing house based in Putnam, Connecticut that specializes in books on psychology, philosophy, religion, mythology and art. His most recent publishing projects include a book on the philosophy of French artist Yves Klein and the first English translation of Philosophy and Religion (1804) by German idealist philosopher F.W.J. Schelling.

Diana Clarke