Yves Klein (1928-1962)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTOR
Yves Klein (1928-1962)

Untitled Blue Monochrome (IKB 107)

Details
Yves Klein (1928-1962)
Untitled Blue Monochrome (IKB 107)
indistinctly signed and dated 'Yves 59' (on the reverse)
dry pigment and synthetic resin on canvas laid down on panel
11 ¾ x 25 ¼in. (29.8 x 64.2cm.)
Executed in 1959
Provenance
Svensk-Franska Konstagallerist, Stockholm.
Private Collection, Sweden (acquired from the above, circa 1960).
Thence by descent to the present owner.
Literature
P. Wember, Yves Klein, Cologne 1969, p. 73, no. IKB 107.
Exhibited
Stockholm, Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Yves Klein, 1963, no. 5.
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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Lot Essay

‘Blue has no dimensions. All colors bring forth associations of concrete, material, and tangible ideas, while blue evokes all the more the sea and the sky, which are what is most abstract in tangible and visible nature’
YVES KLEIN

‘Blue dominates, reigns, lives. It is the Blue-King of the most definitive of surmounted frontiers, the Blue of the frescoes of Assisi. This full void, this nothing which encloses Everything Possible, this supernatural asthenic silence of colour which finally, beyond anecdote and formal pretext, makes the formal grandeur of a Giotto’
PIERRE RESTANY


Executed in Yves Klein’s signature blue pigment – IKB or ‘International Klein Blue’ – Untitled Blue Monochrome, (IKB 107), is an exquisite example of the monochrome works that form the cornerstone of the artist’s entire output. Painted in 1959, the work was acquired circa 1960 and has remained in the same collection ever since. With their highly-pigmented, deeply-saturated surfaces, Klein’s IKB monochromes were the first and purest material expressions of the mystic, immaterial void that he believed lay at the heart of man’s existence. His unique azure pigment was so intense that the artist believed it had the power to induce an extrasensory experience in the viewer, allowing them to transcend their physical being and momentarily glimpse the inarticulate ‘zone of immateriality’ that lay beyond the confines of the human imagination. First conceived in 1957, Klein’s IKB monochromes were so central to his oeuvre that the artist came to personally identify with them, often referring to himself as ‘Yves le Monochrome’ and characterising his art as ‘the Monochrome Adventure’. Unlike his forebears Kazemir Malevich and Ad Reinhardt, who considered the monochrome the logical conclusion of painting, Klein saw pure colour as a portal to an undiscovered spiritual dimension. As he explained, ‘[I] can no longer approve of a “readable” painting ... [eyes were] made not to read a painting, but, rather, to see it. PAINTING is colour’ (Y. Klein quoted in K. Brougher, ‘Involuntary Painting’, in Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers, exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., 2010, p. 26). By limiting himself to a single, highly-concentrated pigment, devoid of surface and expression, Klein sought a new, experiential purpose for art. His monochromes were no longer windows onto the physical world, but rather gateways to the invisible spatial realm that underpinned our very being.

For Klein, colour was not a representative tool, but rather a real, living presence that had the power to impregnate its surroundings and absorb its onlookers. The purer the colour, he believed, the more it might overcome its own material boundaries, dispersing into space and transporting the viewer into the void. His quest for this radical and transcendental mode of painting began in 1947 when, sitting on a rocky beach in Nice beside his friends Arman and Claude Pascal, he suddenly declared, ‘the blue sky is my first artwork’ (Y. Klein, quoted by Arman in T. McEvilley, ‘Yves Klein: Conquistador of the Void’, in Yves Klein 1928-1962: A Retrospective, exh. cat., Institute for the Arts, Rice University, Houston, 1982, p. 46). Having grown up surrounded by the deep azure of the Mediterranean, Klein considered blue to be the most immaterial of all colours, infused with the infinity of sea and sky. ‘Blue has no dimensions’, he wrote. ‘All colors bring forth associations of concrete, material, and tangible ideas, while blue evokes all the more the sea and the sky, which are what is most abstract in tangible and visible nature’ (Y. Klein, quoted in ‘Speech to the Gelsenkirchen Theater Commission’, in Overcoming the Problematics of Art: The Writings of Yves Klein, New York 2007, p. 41). Embarking on what he termed the ‘Blue Revolution’, Klein sought a tone that would radiate with an intensity appropriate for the mystic energy it harboured. After much experimentation, he devised the purest ultramarine hue possible, and had the colour officially patented in his name - ‘International Klein Blue’. Adamant that the application of this colour to canvas should leave no material trace, Klein abandoned paint for pure pigment – a substance which preserved the radiance of the colour.

Against the backdrop of the Second World War and its aftermath, Klein felt the need to overcome society’s deep existentialist anxiety by reinventing art as a means of positive spiritual release. Much of this influence came from the artist’s awareness of eastern philosophy – Klein had spent a year in Japan. Arriving in Paris in 1955, he began to refer to himself as ‘Messenger of the Blue Void’. In 1957, he held his landmark show Proposte Monochrome/epoca blu at the Galleria Apollinaire in Milan. For the exhibition, the artist assembled eleven equally-sized monochrome blue canvases supported on poles, floating a short distance away from the wall. In spite of their similar dimensions and surfaces, Klein proceeded to price each work differently. As he later rationalised, ‘each blue world presented a completely different essence and atmosphere with a pictorial quality perceptible by something other than the material and physical appearance’ (Y. Klein, quoted Yves Klein, exh. cat., Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Frankfurt, 2004, p. 19). Lucio Fontana – whose own Spatialist philosophies resonated with Klein’s pursuit of the immaterial – famously purchased one of the works. In the catalogue for the exhibition, the critic Pierre Restany wrote what has now become a legendary appreciation of colour in Klein’s work. ‘Blue dominates, reigns, lives’, he asserted. ‘It is the Blue-King of the most definitive of surmounted frontiers, the Blue of the frescoes of Assisi. This full void, this nothing which encloses Everything Possible, this supernatural asthenic silence of colour which finally, beyond anecdote and formal pretext, makes the formal grandeur of a Giotto’ (P. Restany quoted in K. Brougher, ‘Involuntary Painting’, Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers, exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., 2010, p. 27).

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