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Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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Yves Klein
1928 - 1962
PORTRAIT RELIEF OF ARMAN, (PR 1)
numbered 6/6 on the bronze figure
dry pigment and synthetic resin on bronze mounted on panel covered with gold leaf
174.8 by 95.3 cm. 68 7/8 by 37 1/2 in.
Conceived in 1962 and cast circa 1989, this work is number 6 from an edition of 6.
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Provenance

Galerie Alexander Iolas, Paris
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York
Galería Elvira González, Madrid
Private Collection, Spain
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2004

Exhibited

Paris, Galerie Alexander Iolas, Yves Klein, April - May 1965, n.p., illustrated (edition no. unknown)

Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Yves Klein, October - December 1965, n.p., no. 67, illustrated (edition no. unknown)

Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, Yves Klein, March - April 1966, n.p., no. 67, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)

New York, The Jewish Museum, Yves Klein, January - March 1967, p. 58, illustrated (edition no. unknown)

Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Art, Yves Klein, February - March 1968, n.p., illustrated in colour on the cover (edition no. unknown)

Nürnberg, Institut für Moderne Kunst, Yves Klein, April - May 1968, p. 22, illustrated (edition no. unknown)

Turin, Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Yves Klein, December 1970, n.p., no. 41, illustrated (edition no. unknown)

Bern, Kunsthalle Bern, Yves Klein, August 1971, p. 103, no. 51, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)

New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, Monochrome Paintings, Sponge Reliefs, Fire and Drag by Yves Klein, March - April 1977, n.p., no. 25, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)

Houston, Rice Museum; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Yves Klein 1928-1962: A Retrospective, November 1982 - January 1983, pp. 171 and 347, no. 93, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)

Seibu Takanawa, The Museum of Modern Art; Shiga, The Museum of Modern Art; Fukushima, Iwaki City Art Museum; Tokyo, The Seibu Museum of Art, Yves Klein, July 1985 - February 1986, p. 64, no. 58, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)

London, Hayward Gallery, Yves Klein, February - April 1995, p. 246, no. 114, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)

Oslo, National Museum of Contemporary Art; Tampere, Sara Hildén Art Museum; Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art, Yves Klein, April 1997 - March 1998, p. 73, no. 60, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)

Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou; Vienna, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Yves Klein: Corps, Couleur, Immatériel, October 2006 - February 2007, p. 170, illustrated in colour (Collection Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris - edition no. unknown)

Buenos Aires, Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporaneo, Yves Klein, August 2017 - January 2018 (edition no. unknown)

Literature

Exh. Cat., Paris, Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Yves Klein: 1928-1962, 1965, n.p., illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)

Paul Wember, Yves Klein, Cologne 1969, p. 139, no. PR 1, illustrated (edition no. unknown)

Pierre Restany, Yves Klein, Paris 1982, p. 204, illustrated (edition no. unknown)

Exh. Cat., Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, Yves Klein, March - May 1983, p. 164, illustrated in colour (Collection Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris - edition no. unknown)

Exh. Cat., New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, Monochrome Paintings, Sponge Reliefs by Yves Klein, April - May 1986, n.p., illustrated in colour (in installation at Sidney Janis Gallery, Monochrome Paintings, Sponge Reliefs, Fire and Drag by Yves Klein, New York, 1977, edition no. unknown)

Nicolas Charlet, Yves Klein, Paris 2000, p. 229, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)

Jean-Paul Ledeur, Yves Klein: Catalogue of Editions and Sculptures Edited, Knokke 2000, p. 258, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)

Hannah Weitemeier, Yves Klein, Cologne 2016, p. 89, illustrated in colour (Collection Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris - edition no. unknown)

Matthias Koddenberg, Yves Klein: in/out studio, Bönen 2016, p. 261, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)

Catalogue Note

A pivotal work that binds Yves Klein’s elemental material practice and his reverence for antiquity, Portrait Relief of Arman, (PR 1) is a spectacular distillation of the artist’s philosophical and aesthetic theories. One of three planned portrait reliefs, each based on plaster casts of Klein’s closest and oldest friends from Nice, Arman, Martial Raysse and Claude Pascal. As a reflection of the crucial position Portrait Relief of Arman, (PR 1) holds in his oeuvre, in 1968 another edition of this work was the first piece by the artist to be acquired by the French government for the national collection. That work is now housed in the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; another work from the edition can also be found in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Klein’s unique combination of Christianity and more general spirituality had led him years before to become preoccupied with the concept of creating a Garden of Eden on earth, and in his final year he once again became obsessed with this notion. As Hannah Weitemeier writes, “he envisioned a temperate zone of gardens and lakes, interspersed with fire and water sculptures shooting into the air, symbolically uniting the fundamental elements” (Hannah Weitemeier, Yves Klein 1928 - 1962, International Klein Blue, Cologne 2016, p. 87). The crowning glory of this idyll was to be a magnificent classical frieze, designed as a didactic expression of the character that this new culture was to espouse. It was for this project that Klein took the plaster casts of Arman, Raysse and Pascal in February 1962, and from this vision that the Byzantine-inspired symbolic combination of blue and gold was conceived. The resulting sculptures, both those of Arman and Raysse and Pascal, have a remarkable material tension. The reflective surface of the gold plane stands in stark opposition to the velveteen quality of the cast, which causes the figure to recede in space, deprived of corporeal presence and flattened against the background. As Weitemeier observes, “the pieces have the effect of timeless detachment, and yet the life that still clings to the empty human shell makes them magically compelling… these final works of Klein’s could well be characterised as a sublimation of the personal aura, a transformation of physical sensuality into the inviolable – albeit ineffable – presence of enduring artistic values” (Ibid., p. 90).

Unfortunately this final project was destined to remain unfinished. Klein died prematurely in May 1962 following a succession of heart attacks, his classical frieze, a homage to both himself and his friends and collaborators, floating rather appropriately as an idea in space, like so many of his daring conceits. An overt reference to the Nouveau Realisme movement of which Klein was a member, alongside artists such as Arman and Raysse, the present work is a testimony to both the audacity of Klein’s vision and his extraordinary capacity for collaboration, as well as a clear demonstration of his enduring friendship with Arman. Combining two of Klein’s most iconic materials and rejoicing in the tactile effect of their union, the artist’s final work serves as a distillation of many of the artistic effects and concepts that defined his stellar career.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London