Barbican show reaches saturation point

In 1955, one of Yves Klein’s now famous monochromes was rejected for an exhibition in Paris, because a single colour was ‘insufficient’. The rejection came with the request, ‘Could you not add at least a little line, or a dot, or simply a spot of another colour?’ Now Klein’s painting, under the banner of Colour after Klein, provides the Barbican with the excuse to have a romp through colour in late 20th century art, taking in the pioneering colour photography of William Eggleston, the fluorescent installation art of Dan Flavin, Anish Kapoor’s sculpture, plus a clutch of more recent manifestations. It feels like a kind of highbrow version of Tate Britain’s recent – and high commercially successful – Turner Whistler Monet exhibition. While sitting comfortably alongside the rehabilitation of colour in our post-minimalist design zeitgeist, by grouping this disparate work together on the basis of a formal characteristic, the Barbican show risks making it merely pretty. Some of the original context and provocation is lost – think of Klein’s neo-Dadaist gesture of signing the blue sky. So all in all, a bit like eating too much cake, fun but indulgent.Colour after Klein runs from 26 May to 11 September at the Barbican Art Gallery, London EC2. Tel: 0845 1207550

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