Lot 112
  • 112

YVES KLEIN | Untitled Blue Sponge Sculpture (SE 303)

70,000 - 100,000 GBP
81,250 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Yves Klein
  • Untitled Blue Sponge Sculpture (SE 303)
  • dry pigment and synthetic resin on natural sponge with posthumously executed metallic base


Galería Cayón, Madrid
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Catalogue Note

“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." Yves Klein, 'Lecture at the Sorbonne' (1959) in: Klaus Ottmann, trans., Overcoming the Problematics of Art: The Writings of Yves Klein, New York 2007, p. 22.

Jewel-like and mysterious, Untitled Blue Sponge Sculpture (SE 303) is one of Yves Klein’s celebrated Sculptures éponges. In the present work, a delicate, floral sponge appears to grow from an immaculate base, softly emanating the International Klein Blue with which it is soaked. Initially used in the application of paint to his monochromes, Klein realised that the sponges had an intrinsic power as medium that exceeded their use-value as a tool. As if they were sumptuous fruit of the Mediterranean itself, the Sculptures éponges constitute an alchemical distillation of the essence of Klein’s aesthetic.

Untitled Blue Sponge Sculpture (SE 303) is a compelling microcosm for one of the most important mechanisms of visual art: the transference of artistic sensibility. This happens through a tripartite absorptive process, each of which captures the immaterial realm. First, the purity of IKB absorbs all light rays except for the deepest blue. Then the sponge, a prehistoric and strange creature, absorbs and captures within it air, liquid and sand. Finally, the human viewer is capable of absorbing into them a sense of the immaterial, even if its direct perception remains either practically or biologically impossible. When the viewer attends to this sense of the immaterial, a feeling of wonder is produced; an artistic sensibility to the limitations of our brains and the scientific and artistic instruments that can be fashioned with them. Untitled Blue Sponge Sculpture (SE 303), then, fashions a microcosmic portrait of its own viewers, who, “after having seen and travelled into the blue of my paintings, [return] from them completely impregnated with sensibility” (Yves Klein, ‘Notes on certain works exhibited at Galerie Colette Allendy’, in: Yves Klein, Overcoming the Problematics of Art, New York 2007, pp. 22-23).

Klein took each of these absorptive events also to be ‘impregnations’: the conference of an aesthetic property to an otherwise inert portion of matter. He believed that blue – more than any other colour – had this power latent within it. Having grown up surrounded by the azure expanse of the Mediterranean, Klein soon became enraptured by the elements: “Blue has no dimensions… [it] evokes all the more the sea and the sky, which are what is most abstract in tangible and visible nature” (Yves Klein, ‘Speech to the Gelsenkirchen Theater Commission’, in: Ibid., p. 41). The present work is a magical encapsulation of Klein’s principal aesthetic aim: the suffusion of the infinite in the material.

This work is registered in the Yves Klein Archives under number SE 303.