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Yves Klein (1928-1962)
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Yves Klein (1928-1962)

Untitled Blue Monochrome (IKB 176)

Details
Yves Klein (1928-1962)
Untitled Blue Monochrome (IKB 176)
signed, titled and dated 'Yves Klein 1960 Le Monochrome' (on the overlap)
pigment and synthetic resin on canvas laid down on panel
28¾ x 10¾in. (72.8 x 27cm.)
Executed in 1960
Provenance
Private Collection, London.
Galerie Michel Couturier & Cie, Paris.
Galerie Tarica, Paris.
Galleria Toselli, Milan.
Studio C, Brescia.
Galerie m. Bochum, Bochum.
Hubertus Wald, Hamburg, by whom acquired from the above in 1971.
Literature
P. Wember, Yves Klein, Cologne 1969, no. IKB 176, p. 75.
Exhibited
Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Sammlung Wald, 2003.
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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Francis Outred

Lot Essay

Created in 1960, Untitled Blue Monochrome (IKB 176) is a radiant and intense ultramarine work by pioneering post-War artist, Yves Klein. Forming part of the same collection for more than forty years, it represents one of the purest expressions of Klein's signature IKB or 'International Klein Blue'. For Klein, this unique azure colour came to epitomise his oeuvre, dramatically reinvigorating the tradition of the monochrome and establishing the influential pathway towards Minimalism, Conceptualism and the contemporary practice of the present day. Unlike his forebears Kazemir Malevich and Ad Reinhardt who considered the monochrome the logical conclusion of painting, Klein saw pure colour as radically extending the promise of the medium. 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', Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers, exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., 2010, p. 26). Through an exquisite concentration of blue pigment on canvas, Klein believed the viewer would undergo an extrasensory experience, ultimately reaching a 'zone of immateriality'. He described this state as one of complete self-awareness, where the viewer might begin to feel the limits of his or her own body, entering a new spatial and spiritual experience.

'Man' he prophesised, 'will be able to conquer space only after having realised the impregnation of space by his own sensibility' (Y. Klein 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. 19). Klein believed that colour was a living presence and that the more pure the colour, the more it might overcome its own material boundaries and disperse into space. In Untitled Blue Monochrome (IKB 176) this effect is compounded by the elegant proportions of the work, which reflect the upright, standing posture of a human figure. Situated in front of the work, the viewer becomes engrossed in its saturated colour field, the eye tracking the work's majestic surface from top to bottom.

Klein's quest for this radical and transcendental mode of painting began in 1947 when, sitting on a rocky beach in Nice beside his friends Arman (Armand Pierre Fernandez) and Claude Pascal, he suddenly declared: 'the blue sky is my first artwork' (Y. Klein 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. 19). Certainly the scorching heat and brilliant Mediterranean light radiating from a piercing blue sky is evoked in Klein's Untitled Blue Monochrome (IKB 176). At the age of just twenty, the young artist had embarked upon a 'Monochrome Adventure', a new and radical 'Blue Revolution'. In doing so, he rejected the figurative line, the practice of representation and the paint as material, privileging instead a transcendental colour with the power to release the 'total freedom of mind and body' (Y. Klein 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. 19).

Arriving in Paris in 1955, Klein began to refer to himself as 'Messenger of the Blue Void'. In 1957, he held his landmark Proposte Monochrome/epoca blu exhibition 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 richly covered 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 in N. Banai, 'From the Myth of Objecthood to the Order of Space: Yves Klein's Adventures into the Void', O. Berggruen (ed.), Yves Klein, exh. cat., Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Frankfurt, 2004, p. 19). In this way, Untitled Blue Monochrome (IKB 176) carried out at the height of Klein's blue period should be understood as a proposition for a unique moment, qualitatively different from all others, demanding its own 'intense and fundamental minute of truth' (Y. Klein 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. 20).

For his exhibition at the Galleria Apollinaire, Klein approached Pierre Restany to act as his interlocutor. It was in this catalogue that the author fully expressed the significance of colour to Klein's work, drawing comparisons with the devotional paintings of Giotto: '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' (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). Against the backdrop of the Second World War, Klein felt the need to overcome society's deep existentialism, to reinvent an art of positive and spiritual release. Much of this influence came from the artist's awareness of eastern philosophy (Klein had spent a year in Japan learning to master the higher disciplines of the martial art of Judo) and from his keen following of the gnostic principles of the Rosicrucians. This intersection between colour and spirituality in Klein's work had already become a focus of early twentieth century abstraction. As Wassily Kandinsky once wrote, in words that could easily have been uttered by Klein himself, 'the deeper the blue the more powerfully it draws man toward infinity and awakens in him the nostalgia for Purity and for the ultimate suprasensible [realm]' (Y. Klein 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. 29).

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