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

F 121

Yves Klein (1928-1962)
F 121
signed and dated 'Yves Klein 1962' (on the reverse)
charred cardboard laid down on board
16 1/8 x 13in. (41 x 33cm.)
Executed in 1962
Private Collection, Europe.
Private sale, Maître Binoche, 23 April 1980, lot 97.
Private Collection, France.
Anon. sale, Christie's Paris, 31 May 2010, lot 8.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
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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Beatriz Ordovás
Beatriz Ordovás

Lot Essay

This work is recorded in the archive under no. F 121 and will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné.

'My aim is two fold; first of all to register the trace of human sentimentality in present-day civilization: secondly, to register the trace of fire which has engendered this very same civilization. And this because the void has always been my constant preoccupation and I hold that in the heart of the void as well as in the heart of man, fires are burning.'(Y. Klein, quoted in P. Restany, 'Chelsea Hotel Manifesto', New York, 1961, Yves Klein: Fire at the Heart of the Void, 2005, p. xv).

Enigmatic, ethereal and fiercely beautiful, F 121 is a consummate example of a powerful body of work that is in many ways the apotheosis of Yves Klein's short but remarkably influential career. Executed in the final year of his life, the same year that he married and that his son Yves was born, F 121 depicts the smoke-like traces of fire upon a dense Swedish cardboard covered with a magnetized chemical coating. The result is at once recognisable and unpredictable - the rich umber tones and the smoke-like traces of the flames have created a delicate, ghostly central ellipse that seems almost otherworldly.

Klein first used fire in his work in 1957, but perfected his technique in 1961 in a specialised research laboratory of the National Gasworks of France. By discovering how to use such a powerful symbol of destruction, regeneration and transmutation in such a visually impressive way, the artist had discovered the ultimate expression of his unique cosmology. He believed fire to be 'the ultra living element' and was fascinated by how fire embodied apparently contrary dichotomies (Y.Klein, quoted in S. Stich, Yves Klein, 1994, p. 227). Fire belonged to the spiritual realm, what he termed 'the void', yet was also fundamental to the material needs of human civilisation. The interplay of gold, blue and red within the heart of every fire, were the very trilogy of colours that were of special significance to Klein. Symbolising a synthesis of the most essential earthly materials: sun, water and blood respectively, with the divine: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Capturing such an intangible paradox was exactly what Klein was pursuing: 'Why must I search for [fire's] traces? Because every work of creation, quite apart from its cosmic position, is the representation of pure phenomenology -every phenomenon manifests itself of its own accord. This manifestation is always distinct from form, and is the essence of the immediate, the trace of the immediate.' (Y. Klein quoted in Yves Klein, exh. cat., London, Tate, 1974, p. 67.)

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