Yves Klein (1928-1962)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Yves Klein (1928-1962)

Peinture de feu sans titre, (F 63) (Untitled Fire Painting, (F 63))

Yves Klein (1928-1962)
Peinture de feu sans titre, (F 63) (Untitled Fire Painting, (F 63))
charred cardboard laid on board
24 ¾ x 9 3/8in. (63 x 24cm.)
Executed in 1961
Heinz Mack Collection, Mönchengladbac.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
P. Wember, Yves Klein, Cologne 1969, no. F 63 (illustrated, p. 128).
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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Matthew Rigg
Matthew Rigg

Lot Essay

Light plays delicately over the glowing amber surface of Peinture
de feu sans titre, (F 63), while an undulating column of mahogany
smoke spreads, like a shadow, at its corners. Ethereally familiar yet
fiercely enigmatic, this work is the result of Yves Klein’s success, in
1961, in harnessing the destructive power of fire into a source of
creative potential. In the last two years of his life, the artist created a
fervently powerful body of work, the fire paintings, which in many
ways, are the apotheosis of his practice, representing the final step
in his sublimatory shift from the material to the spiritual. ‘My goal is
twofold,’ Klein explained his quest, ‘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, ‘Chelsea Hotel Manifesto’ in Overcoming the
Problematics of Art: The Writings of Yves Klein, Putnam 2007, pp. 195-
196). Amongst these works, Peinture de feu sans titre, (F 63) is uniquely
distinguished by its exceptional provenance – for a period of almost
thirty years, it resided in the collection of the artist Heinz Mack, from
whom it was acquired by the present owner. Mack, one of the founders
of the avant-garde Zero group in Dusseldorf, received the work as a
gift from Rotraut Klein, the artist’s wife, upon Klein’s untimely death in
1962. This generous gift marked the final exchange of works between
the two artists, a reciprocal relationship with which the artists supported
and encouraged each other in the years of their friendship and artistic
collaboration from 1958 to 1962.
The genesis of Klein’s remarkable fire paintings lay in the artist’s
investigation of the immaterial. In 1957, Klein set one of his monochrome
paintings alight in One-Minute Fire Painting, (M 51), revelling in the
symbolism of regeneration and transmutation as the conflagration
burned. In early 1961, at his first retrospective exhibition at the Museum
Haus Lange, Krefeld, Klein presented his Fire Fountains and Wall of Fire.
These works, comprising immense blue flames burning vertically and a
wall of flame created with a sequence of Bunsen burners, theatrically
illuminated the museum’s gardens at twilight. Klein recognised the
potential for accessing the immaterial through the elemental potency of
fire. Between March and June 1961, the artist perfected his technique in
the specialised laboratories of the Testing Centre of Gaz de France: using
sheets of highly compressed Swedish cardboard, coated in a magnetized
chemical, allowing flames to lick the surface, then immediately dousing
them with water.
Control over this destructive process meant that Klein could now create
enthrallingly beautiful works which incorporated the emblematic and
cosmological connotations of fire. In the heart of the flame dwelt the
triad of blue, gold, pink, which would be the driving principle Klein’s
ultimate works, represented in monochromes in the trilogy colours
of International Klein Blue, gold and madder rose. Fire was both the
ultimate manifestation of the Void, Klein’s interpretation of the spiritual
realm, and an element fundamental to human civilisation – it embodied
the intangible paradox which the artist relentlessly pursued. ‘Fire is both
intimate and universal ... It resides in our hearts; it resides in a candle.
It rises up from the depths of matter, and it conceals itself, latent,
contained, like hate or patience. Of all phenomena [fire] is the only one
that so obviously embodies two opposite values: good and evil. It shines
in paradise, it burns in hell. It can contradict itself, and therefore it is
one of the universal principles’ (Y. Klein, quoted in H. Weitemeier, Yves
Klein, Cologne 2001, p. 70). A material trace recording Klein’s lifelong
pursuit of the immaterial Void, Peinture de feu sans titre, (F 63) is also
an invocation of the powerful interactions and exhilarating influences
which linked Yves Klein and Heinz Mack, connected the Zero group, and
wove together the European avant-garde.

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