Yves Klein (1928-1962)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Property of a Distinguished Private Swedish Collector
Yves Klein (1928-1962)

IKB 319

Yves Klein (1928-1962)
IKB 319
signed, stamped with the artist's monogram and dated 'Yves 57' (on the overlap)
dry pigment and synthetic resin on canvas laid down on panel
21 7/8 x 30½ in. (55.6 x 78 cm.)
Executed in 1957.

Please note that this work was originally sold as IKB 64 but has since been renumbered on advice from the Yves Klein Archive.
Galerie Iris Clert, Paris
Eva af Burén, Stockholm
Her sale; Stockholms Auktionsverk, 11 March 2009, lot 98
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Önskemuseet/The Museum of Our Wishes, December 1963-February 1964, p. 79, no. 186.
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

Lot Essay

"I want to expand and intensify human awareness of the actualities of existence."--Yves Klein

"...Blue dominates, reigns, lives. It is the Blue-King of the most definitive frontiers, the Blue of the frescoes of Assisi. This full void, this nothing which encloses Everything possible, this supernatural asthenic silence of color which finally, beyond anecdote and formal pretext, makes the formal grandeur of a Giotto."--Pierre Restany

Beyond its vibrant and endless field of brilliant blue, Yves Klein's IKB 319, executed in 1957, represented the manifestation of the artist's interest to enable individuals to embrace his understanding of what he termed the "zone of immateriality" that resided outside the earthly realms of prescribed time and space. IKB 319 is an exquisite example of the artist's attraction to and prolific use of what would later become his signature International Klein Blue, as he sought to find the ideal method in which to bring people into this concept of the zone, or void. Despite his pursuit of color in its truest form, Klein was repeatedly drawn to the powerfully saturated and relentless nature of this color that recalled for him the transcendental experience he felt when staring into the vast Mediterranean Sea. Klein's profound relationship with color stemmed from his firm belief in what he deemed its "infinite presence," as well as the emotive reaction it had the power to evoke.

From the Iris Clert gallery in Paris, IKB 319 was purchased by the famed Swedish art dealer Eva af Burén for her own personal collection. An avid supporter of contemporary artists, including Lucio Fontana, César, Jean Dubuffet, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, Eva af Burén was an early supporter of Klein's work, and helped champion his painting in Sweden. The work was included in the 1963/64 show, The Museum of Our Wishes, at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, a celebrated exhibition that helped solidify integral funding from the Swedish government, ensuring the museum's future. IKB 319 remains a testament to Eva af Buren's impeccable tastes and enthusiastic support for contemporary artists during her life.

Klein's early career experience with monochrome canvases began as the artist grappled with his own identity as he sought to find the purpose in his work. Beginning in 1947, Klein moved to live with an aunt in Nice, in the south of France, where he first developed his strong affinity to the deep endlessness of the blue of the Mediterranean Sea and the equally expansive sky. Although he did not immediately identify as a visual artist, this initial reaction to such intense color, coupled with the deeply metaphysical conversations he had with his friends Claude Pascal and Armand Fernandez (later known as the artist Arman), led Klein to attempt to formulate a way to manifest the blue purity of the sky, the deep green of the grass, and the embodiment of the human condition of existence. Rather than carry the weight of a remembered past, nor be encumbered by the notion of an impending future, IKB 64 epitomizes Klein's concept of the "infinite present" as being completely free from what came before and what was to follow. The rich blue pigments sit on the surface of the canvas merely existing to exist as living and tangible material imbued with power that transfers to the viewer to this unearthly plane of being.

IKB 319 is an example of Klein's investigation with synthetic resin as part of his quest to embody the truest form of the color he wished to convey. Initial exercises with gouache and pastel eventually led to the artist's use of pure, loose pigment. Klein found that by adhering the pigment with a synthetic resin, as is the case with the present lot, the pigment retained its intense purity rather than be diluted with water, oil or another type of fixative. Because of this experimentation, the resultant canvases from this time period range dramatically in their color, hue and saturation. The present lot, for example, does not sit flatly on top of the canvas; the loose pigment glistens and radiates off the surface of the work, catching the light, and truly activating the dynamic elements of this multi-faceted blue. Klein also played with the texture and surface quality of the pigment itself and the way he applied the pigment, resulting in canvases that were smooth or grainy, with the pigment consistently running to the very edges of the canvases, giving the impression that they could theoretically go on eternally.

While other artists, too, were inspired to create monochrome works, Klein's intense and vibrant canvases stand out uniquely from other artists' compositions in their intention. Klein was fully engrossed in the properties of the pigments and the resultant surface of the work, particularly the impact that these properties would have on the viewer. His exploration and various manifestations of color centered on the ultimate goal of creating an engulfing experience for the viewer. On the subject of the viewer, Klein stated, "I seek to put the spectator in front of the fact that color is an individual, a character, a personality. I solicit a receptivity from the observer placed before my works. This permits him to consider everything that effectively surrounds the monochrome painting. Thus he can impregnate himself with color and color impregnates itself in him. Thus, perhaps, can he enter into a world of color" (Y. Klein quoted in S. Stich, Yves Klein, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London, 1994 p. 66). Klein saw his monochromes as an area of pure, primal freedom for the viewer. Free from a narrative, dogmatic system of interpretation or reference to a specific subject, Klein felt that the viewer could truly experience the pure experience of the color, free to instill his or her own meaning, symbolism or emotion into the work--or not. While artists like Barnett Newman or Mark Rothko projected concepts of death, the sublime or the tumult of human emotion, Klein's work instills none of these preconceived notions onto the painting. The intense blue is not meant to evoke a religious connotation, nor act as a proxy for a certain human experience, but rather leaves a space for the viewer to embody the painting, as one would be enveloped by the ocean or vast expanse of open space. In this way, Klein's "deobjectification" of the work allows the canvas to take on a "living presence" rather than simply exist as a material thing with restrictive boundaries.

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