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

Sculpture Éponge bleue sans titre, (SE 244)

Yves Klein (1928-1962)
Sculpture Éponge bleue sans titre, (SE 244)
signed and dated 'Yves 59' (on the reverse of the base); signed with the artist's initials and dated '59 YK' (on the underside)
dry pigment and synthetic resin, sponge with metal wire on stone base
21 ¼ x 10 5/8 x 6 ¼in. (54 x 27 x 16cm.)
Executed in 1959
Rudolf Zwirner, Cologne.
Helge Achenbach Art, Dusseldorf.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1996.
H. Weitemeier, Yves Klein 1928-1962, Cologne 1995 (installation view illustrated in colour, p. 44).
H. Weitemeier, Yves Klein 1928-1962: International Klein Blue, Cologne 2001 (installation view illustrated in colour, p. 45).
H. Weitemeier, Yves Klein 1928-1962, Cologne 2016 (installation view illustrated in colour, p. 44).
Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou Musée national d’art moderne, Yves Klein, 1983, p. 423, no. 88 (illustrated in colour, p. 118; incorrectly catalogued and titled 'SE90').
Cologne, Museum Ludwig, Yves Klein, 1995, p. 284, no. 58 (illustrated in colour, p. 162). This exhibition later travelled to Dusseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen; London, Hayward Gallery and Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.
Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle, Yves Klein, 2004-2005, p. 229, no. 53 (illustrated in colour, p. 103). This exhibition later travelled to Bilbao, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Herford, MARTA Herford, Things Are Queer: Highlights of Art Collection UniCredit, 2011, pp. 94 & 189 (illustrated in colour, p. 95).
Bologna, Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, La Grande Magia: Opere scelte dalla Collezione UniCredit, 2013-2014, p. 210 (illustrated in colour, pp. 29 & 76).
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.
VAT rate of 20% is payable on hammer price and buyer's premium
Post lot text
This work is registered with the Yves Klein Archive and will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné.

Brought to you by

Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord

Lot Essay

A vision of mystic, unearthly wonder, Sculpture Éponge bleue sans titre, (SE 244) is a perfectly-formed example of Yves Klein’s pioneering Sculptures Éponges (Sponge Sculptures). The work dates from 1959: the pivotal year in which the artist displayed a selection of these extraordinary creations alongside his blue monochromes in the seminal exhibition Bas-Reliefs dans une forêt d’éponges at Galerie Iris Clert in Paris. Saturated with the artist’s patented pigment ‘International Klein Blue’, or ‘IKB’, the sponge blooms organically from its support like a coral formation or an otherworldly flower. Pierced by a single hole, in a manner evocative of Lucio Fontana’s contemporaneous buchi and tagli, it allows light to penetrate its dark interior, subtly illuminating its planet-like topography of folds and crevices. The earthbound material of stone – a rare natural support within the artist’s oeuvre – is exquisitely juxtaposed with the sponge’s elegant metaphysical form. Klein’s Sculptures Éponges eloquently embodied his quest to glimpse the immaterial void that he believed lay at the heart of existence. Impregnated with IKB, the sponge – an ancient, organic, ocean-dwelling creature – became a symbol of the human brain’s ability to absorb and perceive the unknown dimensions of reality. The present work was included in Klein’s major retrospective at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, in 1983, as well as his touring retrospective at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 2004-2005.

IKB played a definitive role in Klein’s oeuvre, taking its place within his holy chromatic trinity of blue, gold and ‘madder rose’. Having grown up surrounded by the deep azure of the Mediterranean, Klein considered blue to be the most immaterial, abstract and sensory of all hues: the colour of the sea, the sky and the centre of the flame. In 1947, whilst sitting on a beach in Nice with his friend Claude Pascal and fellow artist Arman, he lay back and gazed at the great expanse of blue above, imagining floating upwards like a balloon and signing his name on the underside of the sky. ‘I have hated birds ever since for trying to make holes in my greatest and most beautiful work!’, he later claimed (Y. Klein, Overcoming the Problematics of Art: The Writings of Yves Klein, New York 2007, p. 183). Blue was the colour of Giotto’s celestial frescoes in the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, which he greatly admired. Others, including Wassily Kandinsky and Stéphane Mallarmé, had also payed homage to its transcendental properties. Klein was particularly excited to discover Gaston Bachelard’s 1943 treatise Air and Dreams, which described ‘an imaginary beyond, a pure beyond, one without a within. First there is nothing, then there is a deep nothing, then there is a blue depth’ (G. Bachelard, quoted ibid., p. 73). Colour, for Klein, was not a representative tool, but rather a real, living presence that – once distilled to its purest state – had the power to absorb its onlookers. Embarking on what he termed the ‘Blue Revolution’, he devised the piercing ultramarine hue that he would eventually register in his name.

It was in 1956, while working on his blue monochromes, that Klein first began to notice the absorbent potential of the sponge as a vehicle for IKB. ‘The sponge has that extraordinary capacity to absorb and become impregnated with whatever fluid, which was naturally very seductive to me’, he explained. ‘Thanks to the natural and living nature of sponges, I was able to make portraits to the readers of my monochromes, which, after having seen and travelled into the blue of my paintings, returned from them completely impregnated with sensibility, just as the sponges’ (Y. Klein, ibid., p. 23). By 1958, he had discovered a way to conserve these creations, using a highly volatile fixative that caused the colour to ‘hover’ elusively over the surface. For Klein, the saturated sponge was the perfect embodiment of the relationship between the material world of nature and the immaterial realm of the spirit. Infused with IKB, it offered an image of base elemental reality transported to a higher dimension. ‘I seek to put the spectator in front of the fact that colour is an individual, a character, a personality’, he explained. ‘… Thus he can impregnate himself with colour and colour impregnates itself in him. Thus, perhaps, he can enter into the world of colour’ (Y. Klein, quoted in S. Stitch, Yves Klein, Cologne 1994, p. 66). With its single speck of light drawing the eye deep into the centre, the present work is a poetic expression of this ambition.

More from Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction

View All
View All