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 138) (Fire Painting (Untitled) (F 138))

Yves Klein (1928-1962)
Peinture de feu sans titre (F 138) (Fire Painting (Untitled) (F 138))
signed and dated 'Yves Klein 1-1961' (lower right)
charred cardboard on board
31 ½ x 46 ¾in. (80 x 118.7cm.)
Executed in 1961
Tokyo Gallery, Tokyo.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1962.
Tokyo, Tokyo Gallery, Rétrospective Yves Klein, 1962.
Tokyo, Fuji Television Gallery, Yves Klein, 1979, no. 20 (illustrated, unpaged).
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. These lots have been imported from outside the EU or, if the UK has withdrawn from the EU without an agreed transition deal, from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Further details
This work is registered in the Yves Klein Archive under the archive number F 138.

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Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord

Lot Essay

Acquired the year after its creation, and held in the same private collection ever since, the present work is an exquisite example of Yves Klein’s celebrated fire paintings. With its surface seared and scorched by flames, it demonstrates the triumphant fusion of science and art – physics and metaphysics – that came to a head during the last two years of his tragically short life. For Klein, fire was the ultimate expression of the mysterious, intangible void that he believed lay at the heart of existence. The centre of its flame embodied the holy trinity of colours – blue, gold and pink – that, by this stage, had come to define his oeuvre. Klein had made previous attempts to render nature’s elemental forces visible to the naked eye: his series of Anthropométries saw him use human bodies as ‘living brushes’, whilst his Cosmogonies were created by exposing his canvases to the wind and rain. His ground-breaking collaboration with Gaz de France in 1961 allowed him, for the first time, to capture the volatile power of fire, recording its mesmeric properties upon compressed card. In the present work lies the residual trace of the force that had ignited mankind’s very being: a triumph for an artist who believed that ‘my paintings are the “ashes” of my art’ (Y. Klein, Overcoming the Problematics of Art: The Writings of Yves Klein, New York 2007, p. 143). Examples from the series are held in museum collections worldwide, including the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the Hamburger Kunsthalle and the Menil Collection, Houston.

Described by the critic Pierre Restany as ‘the synthetic thriving of Yves Klein’s cosmogony’, the fire paintings created between 1961 and 1962 are widely considered to represent the apotheosis of the artist’s practice (P. Restany, Yves Klein: Fire at the Heart of the Void, Putnam 2005, p. 1). Their origins may be traced to his 1961 exhibition Yves Klein: Monochrome and Fire at the Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, where he debuted his legendary ‘fire wall’ – made of 50 Bunsen burner jets – and his three-metre high ‘fire columns’. As the show drew to a close in February, the artist began experimenting with holding sheets of card in front of these flames, relishing the unpredictable charred traces that appeared upon their surface. Between March and July, he continued this project at the testing centre for France’s national gas company: an unprecedented collaboration between art and industry that allowed him to take his creative vision to new heights. Using a giant fire torch and Swedish compressed board that had been treated for resistance, Klein refined his technique, gradually achieving greater control over the combustion process. As the series progressed, the artist began to fuse the fire paintings with the techniques developed in his Anthropométries, printing traces of the human body on top of his flame-scorched surfaces. Colour, too, came to play an increasingly prominent role, with strata of pink and blue swimming through the fiery depths of his works. Despite these advancements, however, Klein’s early fire paintings – such as the present – remain some of his most euphoric creations: raw expressions of the vast elemental power suddenly placed at his disposal.

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