So many artists have shared this passion for blue, but none like Klein, who defined it as “the invisible becoming visible” Warhol is represented twice, with a Statue of Liberty and with a blue, of course, Mickey Mouse
Carlo Salvi was a man in love with blue. He said it was lucky and that it brought him eternal youth. His entire wardrobe was blue as well as all of the objects around him, from his crockery to his car. The works of art he collected were no exception. From Warhol, Fontana, Basquiat and – it goes without saying – Yves Klein, with his very own International Klein Blue. So many artists have shared this passion for blue, but none like Klein, who defined it as “the invisible becoming visible.”
One of the last wishes of Carlo Salvi was to open an art foundation in Barcelona. However, he did not live long enough to see his wish come true and died in 2010. But three years later, his daughter Vanessa, who worked on the project with him, inaugurated the Blueproject Foundation in Barcelona’s Born (Princesa 57), a made-to-measure tribute, in all its blue glory.
Following Salvi’s death, his collection was spilt up and passed through various hands, but Vanessa’s efforts bore fruit and she reunited a number of the most emblematic works. The opening of the collection did not cause much of a stir, despite the importance of many of the pieces and despite the fact that such works are not that easy to find in Barcelona.
Renato Della Poeta, from the foundation’s artistic team explained: “We opened without making too much fuss. Nobody knew anything.” Now, in its fifth year, Blueproject is a space fully integrated in the city’s artistic and cultural circuit and has chosen to reunite the same works, with minimal changes, that formed its opening show. There is time until November 4 for the public to enjoy the exhibition. Even so, Vanessa Salvia assures those who might miss out on the event that it will not be the last time the Blueproject Foundation will hold the exhibition. “Whenever we want to celebrate, this is exactly how we will do so. In this way, we will always have my father present,“ she said.
The Still Blue exhibition is infused with a yearning for purity, some 11 works that Kandinsky philosophised as “calling man to infinity and awakening in him the yearning for the pure.” The Russian’s work is not present, but that of Yves Klien is, in the form of a sculpture of a Venus that in 2013 was not part of the repertoire. It is new, together with a fibre optic installation by Daniel Buren. Blue seemed to drive Salvi to insanity, much as Basquiat’s Rebel was painted, as he agonised over approaching death, the left-handed artist painting with his right hand as the left no longer could.
Meanwhile, Warhol is represented twice in the exhibition, with his portrait of the Statue of Liberty and with a blue, of course, Mickey Mouse. And Fontana is there as well, something with scenery trimmed with an indescribable silence. The name of the North American Mark Tansey is well known, but his work is seldom seen in Spain and indeed in Europe in general. Here we find his work inside a visually balanced puzzle, unravelled inside a world of blue. Much like art in general, which already has this, an idea which often seems something but, in fact, finally turns out to be something far more powerful.
The importance of being blue
American essayist and contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine, Rebecca Solnit, says that “the world is blue at its edges and its depths...” and she talks of the “blue of distance.” This is the blue that she says fills lost spaces, “the light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, that gives us the beauty of the world, so much is in the colour blue.” Way back in the 15th century, many European artists began to use blue so as to experiment with volume, in search of something that Leonardo da Vinci would perfect. He painted Ginevra de’ Benci in 1474, using different shades of blue to make some things “appear more distant than others.” If you let your eye travel beyond Ginevre, in the distance you will see his blues create detail in the trees and the town. In 1507, he mastered the idea of applied perspectives in the Mona Lisa and the world of art changed.