- Yves Klein
- Untitled Blue Sponge Sculpture, (SE 242)
- dry pigment and synthetic resin on natural sponge
- 18 by 17 by 9 cm. 7 1/8 by 6 3/4 by 3 1/2 in.
- overall: 36 by 17 by 9 cm. 14 1/8 by 6 3/4 by 3 1/2 in.
- Executed circa 1960.
Private Collection, Europe
Sotheby’s, London, 8 February 2002, Lot 185
Gallery Delaive, Amsterdam
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Klein had first used sponges as a studio tool, where he favoured them for their massive absorption qualities. It was these same qualities that made them so superbly effective as artworks: "While working on my paintings in my studio, I sometimes used sponges. Evidently, they very quickly turned blue! One day I perceived the beauty of blue in the sponge; this working tool all of a sudden became a primary medium for me. The sponge has that extraordinary capacity to absorb and become impregnated with whatever fluid, which was naturally very seductive to me. Thanks to the natural and living matter of sponges, I was able to make portraits of the readers of my monochromes, which, after having seen and traveled into the blue of my paintings, returned from them completely impregnated with sensibility, just as the sponges" (Yves Klein, Overcoming the Problems of Art: The Writings of Yves Klein, Spring Publications, New York, 2007, p. 22).
The sponge sculptures had evolved from Klein’s Monochromes, as an exploration into nature and space. First presented in June 1959 at the Galerie Iris Clert in Paris during the exhibition Bas Relief dans une forêt d'éponges (Bas-relief in a Sponges Forest), Klein presented his lavishly saturated blue sponge sculptures – all of varying sizes, heights, shapes and textures – grouped together along the sides of a small room, transforming the space into a lush, crowded and mysterious environment, in an attempt to recreate the beauty and overgrowth of a natural woodland area. Filling the gallery with an assortment of works passing resemblance to trees, lush vegetation, and even human figures, Klein created a dense forest of sponges. Klein’s was forest intended to imply that "a process of natural growth and proliferation was taking place" and that these brilliantly blue flowers and trees were a natural phenomenon, growing in nature, and evolving and multiplying as Klein continued to create hundreds of variations of these sculptures (Sidra Stich, Yves Klein, Ostfildern 1994, p. 165). The forest was intended to emphasize an allusion to nature, and highlight the differences which can be found in a seemingly similar object – Klein's aim with these sponge sculptures was, like his earlier monochromes, to emphasize that no two things on the planet are identical despite their apparent similarities – insisting that the individual value of each work resides in the creativity instilled in it, and holds an inherent sensibility or aura which is immaterially present and irreproducible. The present work is exemplar of this series, featuring all of the vibrancy and immediacy that has made Klein's sponge sculptures such a universally accepted icon of contemporary art.