Leap into the Void

Yves Klein (French, Nice 1928–1962 Paris)

Photographed by Harry Shunk (German, Reudnitz 1924–2006 New York (?))
Photographed by János (Jean) Kender (Hungarian, Pécs 1937–2009)
Gelatin silver print
Image: 25.9 x 20 cm (10 3/16 x 7 7/8 in.) Frame: 43.2 x 35.6 cm (17 x 14 in.)
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1992
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© Yves Klein, ADAGP, Paris; Photo: Shunk-Kender © Roy Lichtenstein Foundation
  • Description

    As in his carefully choreographed paintings in which he used nude female models dipped in blue paint as paintbrushes, Klein's photomontage paradoxically creates the impression of freedom and abandon through a highly contrived process. In October 1960, Klein hired the photographers Harry Shunk and Jean Kender to make a series of pictures re-creating a jump from a second-floor window that the artist claimed to have executed earlier in the year. This second leap was made from a rooftop in the Paris suburb of Fontenay-aux-Roses. On the street below, a group of the artist’s friends from held a tarpaulin to catch him as he fell. Two negatives--one showing Klein leaping, the other the surrounding scene (without the tarp)--were then printed together to create a seamless "documentary" photograph. To complete the illusion that he was capable of flight, Klein distributed a fake broadsheet at Parisian newsstands commemorating the event. It was in this mass-produced form that the artist's seminal gesture was communicated to the public and also notably to the Vienna Actionists.

  • Provenance

    Harry Shunk; Addison Thompson

  • Notes

    This image was conceived by Yves Klein and executed by Harry Shunk and Jean Kender. The image was reproduced by Klein in a faux newspaper, Dimanche, with the caption: "The Painter of Space Throws Himself Into the Void!" The image was photographed at 3 rue Gentil Bernard, at the corner of Maréchal Galleri in the suburb of Fontenay-aux-Roses, Paris, October 1960.