Lot 24
  • 24

Yves Klein

350,000 - 450,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Yves Klein
  • Untitled Anthropometry, (ANT 161) 
  • signed Yves Klein le monochrome, dated 1961, and inscribed with the artist’s monogram
  • dry pigment in synthetic resin on paper laid down on canvas
  • 44 by 61.1cm.; 17 3/8 by 24in.


Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 1961

Catalogue Note

Yves Klein’s mesmerisingly beautiful yet rigorously conceptual Anthropometries series is a sensuous exploration of the female form. Framing the work as a Gesamtkunstwerk in all of its performative essence, Klein radically redefined the perception of traditional painting as well as the role of the model. By using the female body as a human paintbrush, Klein carefully orchestrated the creation of the work without ever touching either model or paint during the execution of these works. Untitled, Anthropometry, (ANT 161) concentrates on the upper part of the body with the model’s breasts submerged in Klein’s tantalising IKB pigment. The purity of the work is further emphasised by the vibrant contrast of the ultramarine blue against the white background. The painted skin of the model is sumptuously supplanted onto the paper and has left gestural marks that attest to the energy, dynamism, and air of spontaneity that characterised these legendary performances.

The Anthropometries were initiated at the famous opening of the Galerie Internationale d’Art Contemporain on 9 March 1960. Dressed in a formal tuxedo, Klein conducted an orchestra of nine musicians to play a single chord. In the middle of the Symphonie monoton-silence, three nude female models entered the room, each holding a pot of colour in their hands. In an uninterrupted ballet of sensuous movement, the models bathed themselves in pigment and imprinted their body onto sheets of paper which lined the walls and floor. Klein, the conductor of this ceremony, orchestrated the event with the decisive gestures of a leading maestro. After playing the monochord for twenty minutes, the music suddenly stopped and the space was filled with a sacral, celebratory silence, leaving behind the traces of a memorable performance that today is held in the radiant traces of the colour-filled paper.

After Klein inaugurated the Blue Period in 1957 with his revolutionary blue monochromes, the advent of the Anthropometries marked the artist’s confrontation of the traditional art historical subject of the female nude. Klein admired the classic female form in the tradition of artists such as Ingres and Degas. At the same time, his affinity for the expressiveness of colour is deeply rooted in the colour theory of the non-conformist Romanticism of Eugene Delacroix, whose belief in the brilliance of pure colour stood in contrast to Ingres’s Neoclassical championing of line and form. In the purity of the pigment as well as the depiction of the female form, the present work recalls Henri Matisse's groundbreaking series of cut-outs of the Blue Nudes. Similar to these relief-like cut-outs, Klein's Anthropometries engage in a dialogue between traditional subject and avant-garde execution, a unique blending that celebrates the female nude in an almost sculptural form. Klein’s compositional insistence focuses on specific parts of the body. In the present work, the upper part of the model with her breasts covered in paint celebrates the natural contact of figure and medium, depicting the human form in its primordial state at the very height of its vitality and sexuality.

Fusing performance and painting into one work, Untitled Anthropometry, (ANT 161) is a beautiful display of Klein’s pursuit to integrate art and life in its most direct way, thereby fully immersing in what he termed the ‘monochrome adventure’ as outlined in his eponymous thesis. Transgressing the figurative, the totemic nature of these corporeal traces convey the gestural yet abstract marks of the body’s movement to achieve a state of total celestial harmony.