YVES KLEIN (1928–1962)
YVES KLEIN (1928–1962)
YVES KLEIN (1928–1962)
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YVES KLEIN (1928–1962)
4 More
YVES KLEIN (1928-1962)

Anthropométrie sans titre, (ANT 80)

YVES KLEIN (1928-1962)
Anthropométrie sans titre, (ANT 80)
dry pigment and synthetic resin on paper mounted on canvas
80 1/2 x 61 3/4 in. (204.5 x 156.8 cm.)
Executed in 1960.
Private collection
Danese Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1997
P. Wember, Yves Klein, Cologne, 1969, p. 108, no. ANT 80 (illustrated).
“Yves Klein,“ ArtNews, February 1998, n.p. (illustrated).
N. Charlet, Yves Klein, Paris, 2000, p. 172 (illustrated).
J.-C. Brun-Aube, J.-C. Brondani and J.-P. Coche, Judo et Sociéte: des plaisirs du Judo au Judo plaisir, Cergy-Pontoise, 2000 (illustrated on the front cover).
A.-K. Mallordy and R-K. Moquay, Yves Klein, Munich, 2000.
New York, Danese Gallery, Yves Klein: The Anthropometries, New York, October-November 1997 (illustrated on the front cover).

Brought to you by

Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco Head of Department, Impressionist & Modern Art, New York

Lot Essay

“One day, I understood that my hands, the tools by which I manipulated color, were no longer sufficient. I need to paint monochrome canvases with the models themselves … No, this was no erotic folly! It was even more beautiful.” - Yves Klein

Featuring one of the most revolutionary painterly forms of the twentieth-century, Yves Klein’s Anthropométrie sans titre, (ANT 80) blends together the dynamism of gestural abstraction with the mystical allure of the sublime. Distinguished by the generous applications of the artist’s eponymous International Klein Blue (IKB) paint, this particular example successfully combines the visual intensity of the pigment with the organic forms of his “living paintbrushes.” The torqued forms that negotiate the surface are among the most expertly composed of the series, as elegant curves mimic the contours of the human body. Where the body makes prolonged periods of contact with the support, deep pools of concentrated pigment occur; conversely—where the contact was minimal—only ghostly traces of the human form remain. Sweeping trails and orbs of color leave explicit traces of the physical process of picture making that engaged Klein and his models, the intensity of the composition is further enhanced further by its juxtaposition with the pale white of the ground.

The artist’s Anthropométries first appeared at the height of what has become known as his “Blue Period” when Klein attempted to commune on an almost spiritual level with both the mystical and physical properties of his newly adopted IKB pigment. In an attempt to exploit the transcendent nature of this particular color, Klein began to invite naked models into his studio to act as “living paintbrushes”—covering themselves in the pigment before directly applying it to the support by pressing their skins on the surface. “One day, I understood that my hands, the tools by which I manipulated color, were no longer sufficient,” he said. “I need to paint monochrome canvases with the models themselves … No, this was no erotic folly! It was even more beautiful.” Recoiling his early experiments, Klein described how “I threw a large white canvas on the ground. I poured some twenty kilos of blue paint in the middle and the model literally jumped into it. She painted the painting by rolling her body over the surface of the canvas in every direction. I directed the operation standing up, moving quickly around the entire perimeter of the fantastic surface on the ground, guiding the model’s every movement, and repositioning here” (Y. Klein, Overcoming the Problematics of Art: The Writings of Yves Klein, New York, 2007, p. 113). He often staged the making of his Anthropométries, as an elaborate performance in front of an audience, sometimes complete with blue cocktails and accompanied by a performance of the artist’s Monotone Symphony—a single note played for twenty minutes, followed by twenty minutes of silence.

International Klein Blue’s origins can be found in the artist’s youth when, along with two friends, Klein was lying on a beach in the south of France looking up at the blue sky. With youthful bravado they decided to divide up the universe among themselves, just as the Greek gods Zeus, Poseidon and Hades had done. “Arman…took charge of the animal realm… Claude gathered to himself the safety of all plants. And Yves…defined his realm, the mineral, as the blue emptiness of the distant sky” (T. McEvilley, “Yves Klein: Conquistador of the Void,” in Yves Klein, 1928-1962, exh. cat., Institute for the Arts, Rice University, Houston, 1982, p. 28).

The deep, vibrant blue pigment became the central part of his investigations into the immaterial and the infinite. With these expanses of high keyed, intense blues, Klein represented what he believed was the spiritual realms of the sublime. Klein professed to believe that the color possessed unique, almost supernatural, properties. "What is blue," he asked, discussing the unique power of this particular color. "Blue is obscurity becoming visible. ...Blue has no dimensions. It is beyond dimensions" (Y. Klein, Overcoming the Problems of Art: The Writings of Yves Klein, Spring Publishing, 2007, p. 40).

“Blue is obscurity becoming visible. Blue has no dimensions. It is beyond dimensions.” - Yves Klein

Early in his career, Klein also began to notice the absorbent potential of sponge as a means of capturing the immaterial properties of his pigment. “The sponge has that extraordinary capacity to absorb and become impregnated with whatever fluid,” he said, “which was naturally very seductive to me. 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, in Overcoming the Problematics of Art: The Writings of Yves Klein, New York 2007, p. 22).

However, in 1960, the year he painted the present work, he also began to use live models as part of the means of creation, not just as subject matter. Up until this point he had never thought about using models for figure painting but he came up on the idea as he searched for a way to capture their essence. He finally realized that “the time of the brush had ended and finally my knowledge of judo was going to be useful. My models were my brushes. I made them smear themselves with color and imprint themselves on the canvas….But this was only the first step. I thereafter devised a sort of ballet of girls smeared on a grand canvas which resembled the white mat of judo contest” (Y. Klein, quoted in K. Brougher, op.cit, p. 173). Thus, his Anthropometrie paintings have become some of the most avant-garde works of the postwar period, combining painting and performance in one burst of creativity.

Directly capturing traces of movement and the energy of life itself in these intensely blue imprints, Anthropométrie sans titre, (ANT 80) vividly encapsulate Klein’s express desire to channel the spirit of life and of the wider universe through art. With their specific, transcendental IKB coloration, the Anthropométries, connect real, living “states of the flesh,” to the universe beyond the known world. The extensive, yet momentary, blue impression set against expanse of empty space is evocative of the full range of Klein’s mystic vision, conveying the fleeting vitality of human life, dissolved of any individual identity, finally floating free within the wider cosmos.

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