August 7th, 2011
07:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #930 'International blue'

Reporter's Note: Often these letters appear to be about what I know. More often, I think, they are about what I don’t know; which, in its own way, is a certain type of knowledge.

Dear Mr. President,

If I could tell you how I stumbled upon an article I read this weekend I would, but frankly it was such a twisted journey it is not worth the effort. Suffice to say it started with me doing some research on German idioms (oh yes, I am a very fun guy,) wandered briefly through Breakfast at Tiffany’s (which included a charming few moments sitting in my hotel room watching Audrey Hepburn sing Moon River on my iPad,) and ended with me reading several articles about a late French artist named Yves Klein.

Here are two things I learned in the process:

1) I am far less informed about art than I thought I was. I’ve been to most of the world’s great art museums. I paint and draw, and I’ve bought many pieces of art. I have read about the lives of great painters, and a variety of art movements. And yet, somehow this guy utterly eluded me. And he is a big deal. He championed the whole “great big canvas all painted one color” notion and had, oddly enough, some pretty decent reasoning behind it. Trust me.

2) A particular shade of blue which I have seen pretty much all of my life was named after him (International Klein Blue) and everyone in the world of fashion and design seems to know this. I wish one of them would have told me sooner.

I am also led to believe that this particular color, which is kind of like what you see on the heads and faces of those Blue Man Group guys, is going to be very much in vogue this fall. So that’s a suggestion if you’re looking to score a nice handbag or other gift for the First Lady.

In any event, reading about him quite excited my imagination and accordingly, I am going to keep this letter shortish. I am off to the nearest modern art museum to see if they have some of his work. When I find these gaping holes in my knowledge (and heaven knows there are many) like leaks in the roof I often feel the need to patch them as soon as possible, lest the water of ignorance erode other parts of my feeble brain.

If you feel like joining me, give a ring. I assure you, you will never again see that shade of blue and think, “Oh well, it is just a color.” Oh no, you will think, “There is evidence that one man can have an impact; one man with one idea, can influence the world.”