Yves Klein (1928-1962)
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Yves Klein (1928-1962)

Anthropométrie (ANT 49)

Yves Klein (1928-1962)
Anthropométrie (ANT 49)
signed and dated 'Yves Klein 1960' (lower right)
pure pigment and synthetic resin on paper laid down on canvas
42 7/8 x 25 5/8in. (109 x 65cm.)
Executed in 1960
Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris.
Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1974).
Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 7 February 2007, lot 14.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
P. Wember, Yves Klein, Cologne 1969, no. ANT 49 (illustrated, p. 105).
New York, The Jewish Museum, Yves Klein, 1967.
Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Yves Klein, 1968, no. 39 (illustrated in colour, p. 13).
Paris, Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs et Centre National d'Art Contemporain, Yves Klein 1928-1962, 1969 (illustrated in colour, p. 33).
Bremen, Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst, Paint in Blue ACT Art Collection Siegfried Loch, 2007 (illustrated in colour, p. 75).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Louisa Robertson

Lot Essay

'It was the block of the body itself, that is to say the trunk and part of the thighs, that fascinated me. The hands, the arms, the head, the legs were of no importance. Only the body is alive, all-powerful, and non-thinking...(Y. Klein quoted in S. Stich, Yves Klein, Ostfildern-Ruit, 1994, p. 175).

'I had rejected the brush long before... It was too psychological. I painted with the more anonymous roller, trying to create a distance - at the very least an intellectual, unvarying distance - between the canvas and me during the execution. Now, like a miracle, the brush returned, but this time it was alive: it was the flesh itself that applied the colour to the canvas, under my direction, with a perfect precision, allowing me to remain constantly at an exact distance x from my canvas and thus continue to dominate my creation during the entire execution. In this way I stayed clean. I no longer dirtied myself with colour, not even the tips of my fingers. The work finished itself there in front of me, under my direction, in absolute collaboration with the model. And I could salute its birth into the tangible world in a dignified manner, dressed in a tuxedo... By this determination, or rather technique, I especially wanted to tear down the temple veil of the studio. (I wanted) to keep nothing of my process hidden' (Y. Klein, Truth Becomes Reality reproduced in K. Ottmann, Overcoming the Problematics of Art: The Writings of Yves Klein, New York, 2007, pp. 186-87).

With its bold ultramarine presence of thick IKB pigment rendering a radiant and dynamic trace of the trunk and thighs of a human torso in stark graphic clarity against a gently mottled, sky blue and cosmogonie-type background, ANT 49 is a quintessential example of Yves Kleins celebrated series of Anthropométries. A rare example from the series in that its clear and singular imprinted image has been proudly signed on the front of the work by the artist, ANT 49, executed in 1960, is one of the first of this dramatic series of works made at the height of Kleins involvement with them. Centred on one strong single impression of a blue-painted female torso, this work reflects the artists original concern in his Anthropométries to concentrate on the iconic nature of the body print as a vital and powerful signifier of the innate immaterial energy of human life.

Kleins model has here been instructed to create a forceful and iconic imprint of her torso by straddling the paintings sky-blue, rain-spattered cosmogonic paper ground. In order to do this, Klein has had the model crouch astride the paper sheet while it was laid over a cylindrical bolsterlike support, in the manner indicated in Harry Shunks photographs of Klein and a model creating a variety of Anthropométries in his Paris apartment in 1960.

Operating on the borderlines between abstraction and figuration as well as between the material and the immaterial realms, Kleins Anthropométries were a sequence of often surprisingly dynamic paintings made, under the artists direction, from the imprints of nude women coated in paint so as to become the artists living brushes. Usually created in Kleins own patented, intensely resonant blue pigment that he maintained to be indicative of a mystic immateriality (International Klein Blue), these works were a corporeal extension of Kleins two great earlier series of works, his monolithic and conceptual 'propositions of the void' - the IKB monochromes - and his magnificent, strangely organic and otherworldly sponge relief landscapes. Marking the dramatic reintroduction of the human figure into what was the predominantly abstract nature of the art of the time, these works with their highly painterly traces generated by the imprint of the painted models body, provided, like Pollocks drips and Fontanas slashes had before them, a new series of potent and enduring gestural signs of human interaction with the mystic immaterial void.

An extension of the field of painting into the realm of action, gesture and performance, Klein described his Anthropométries as energized marks of the moment states of the flesh and he saw in them a direct connection with the other great art that he practiced, judo. Indeed, in many respects, Kleins Anthropométries can be seen as painterly expressions of the judokas concept of the body as a physical, sensorial and spiritual centre of energy whose power resides specifically in the controlled and disciplined release of this energy to the outside. Imprints of the body left in the sand on the beach or on the judo mat for example had provided a deep inspiration for Klein and often featured in the films he made and other of his works long before he created the Anthropométries. Something of the mesmerizing and totemic nature of these corporeal traces of the human bodys inner vitality is also conveyed in the blue calligraphy-like marks of Kleins anthropometric imprints.
They are, as Kleins friend, champion and Nouveau Réaliste colleague, Pierre Restany noted, 'blue gestures' that run through 40,000 years of modern art to be reunited with the anonymous handprint - as sufficient as it was necessary in that dawn of our universe - that at Lascaux or Altamira signified the awakening of man to self-awareness and the world (P. Restany, Yves Klein, New York, 1982, p. 110).

Begun in March 1960, around the same time as the Anthropométries, and named with reference to the title of the 1949 book on Rosicrucianism, La Cosmologie des Rose-Croix by Max Heindel that had such a defining influence on Klein and his work, Kleins Cosmogonies, were a simple and direct extension of the Anthropométries into the wider realm of nature. In the same way that the Anthropométries were the mark of the moment states of the flesh, Kleins Cosmogonies marked 'the moment states of nature'. Recording in monochrome blue on paper the impressions made by the vital energy of the natural world in the form of reeds blowing in the wind, or, as with the background of ANT 49, by rain falling through a blue mist of pigment, the Cosmogonies marked a translation of Kleins 'Anthropometric' processing of an image into the infinite spatial and temporal dimension of the cosmos.

Originally, Kleins concern was with the primal mark of the bodys imprint against the seemingly infinite space suggested by the blank, or as here, Cosmogonie-like background. Klein was not concerned with the outer appearance of the body in terms of its contours or pictorial resemblance to the human figure, but solely with a capturing of the bodys interactive presence as its living energy, when impregnated with his mystic, immaterial colour, left a trace in the paint onto the surface of the paper. Klein, as he later, confirmed of his 'fire' paintings wanted to convey a sense of the presence of absence in his work. 'The shape of the body, its curves, its colours between life and death, are not of interest to me, he declared, It is the pure affective atmosphere that is invaluable' (Y. Klein, quoted in S. Stich, Yves Klein, Ostfildern-Ruit, 1994, p. 171).

Taking the form of a single, imposing and cohesive imprint emblazoned like a solitary and energized calligraphic brushstroke over a shimmering, rain-spattered, blue background reminiscent of Kleins Cosmogonie series of the same period, ANT 49 is a rare and iconic work that fuses a startlingly haunting, almost totemic image of animate life from elements drawn from both these two important series of works.

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