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Leaping: Art Analysis

By Brittany Ashley

Yves Klein, Leap Into the Void, 1960

In 1960, Yves Klein leaped from a second-story window. Nobody can corroborate his story. In October of the same year, Klein leaped again, this time from the rooftop of a Parisian home. Of this, he was careful to get photographic evidence. Working with two photographers and a group of artist friends, Klein combined two negatives: one of him leaping from the building & landing safely on a tarp, the other of the street, the tarp, his friends, and himself absent. Stitching them together carefully, Klein created the illusion of his “Leap Into the Void.”


Much of 2020 has felt like a leap into what I guess could be called a void. An unknown. The beginning of this year felt like the start of a new chapter in the biography, and I was hoping it would be a great one. The 2020s are just beginning, let us remember that at least. But we’re off to a rough start. The streets now echo those of Klein’s photograph, empty yet full of yearning for the days when shoes trampled over the stones and those inside grew tired of hearing ruckus at all hours of the night. Just like Klein, our narrative has been stitched together, those in charge constantly telling us one thing when another is hiding just behind the second negative. It’s hard to tell what’s true. What each of us should do when all of our sources are speaking against one another.


Klein’s leap reminds me that hoaxes are nothing new. That unknowns are not a modern invention, in fact, we know so much more than we ever have. And, cheesily enough, that there is a group of people waiting to catch us with a tarp in hand. A leap into the void, like so many terms that sound straight from science-fiction, rings eerily familiar now. Our world is a-changing, and we are changing with it. That used to scare me, and it still does on occasion, but I know that there will be constants that remain. Klein’s photograph may have been in color had he taken it today. Perhaps he would have edited the shot to seem like his leap was from a greater height, using the wonder that is photoshop. Regardless, the heart of his piece would remain the same. And the heart of our lives will too, no matter what changes last from this strange and uncertain year.


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