PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SCANDINAVIAN COLLECTION
Yves Klein first discovered the chromatic potential of pure powdered pigment in an art supply shop in London in 1949, but it was not until 1956 that the artist would turn the sponges that he used to apply his newly invented synthetic medium International Klein Blue to his canvasses, into works of art themselves. Over the following six years before the artist’s untimely death in 1962, the pigment-impregnated sponges would become one of the key elements in his work. The contradictory spatial logic of Yves Klein’s sponges - both absorbing and emanating their colour - perfectly suited the artist’s quest for an “immaterial sensibility”, which he had previously explored through his monochrome paintings. Fascinated by notions of nothingness in Zen Buddhism, as well as Gaston Bachelard’s phenomenology, Klein was often heard quoting the French philosopher’s dictum “First there is nothing, then there is a deep nothing, then there is a blue depth.” (Gaston Bachelard, L’Air et les songes, Essai sur l’imagination du mouvement, Paris 1943, p. 218) This blue depth was exactly what the artist was after; the symbolic and physical representation of an immaterial space through the chromatic power of pure pigment. As Yves Klein explained: “Blue has no dimensions. It is beyond dimensions, while the other colours have some… All colours 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 quoted in: Klaus Ottmann, Overcoming the Problematics of Art: The Writings of Yves Klein, New York 2007, p. 40).
Perfectly encapsulating the artist’s signature exploration of immateriality, and advancing a radically new understanding of art that would profoundly inform artistic practices over the decades to come, Untitled blue sponge-sculpture (SE 223) stands as a commanding testament to an art-historically exciting and influential moment in Twentieth Century art. Having remained in the same family over the past four decades, this stunning sculpture has not been seen publicly during that time and captures the artist’s conceptual and visual elegance with a freshness that is as powerful now as it was when Yves Klein made it 55 years ago.
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