'It was the block of the body itself, that is to say the trunk and part of the thighs, that fascinated me. The hands, the arms, the head, the legs were of no importance. Only the body is alive, all-powerful, and non-thinking. The head, the arms, the hands are only intellectual articulations around the bulk of flesh that is the body! The heart beats without thought on our part; the mind cannot stop it. Digestion works without our intervention, be it emotional or intellectual. We breathe without reflection. True, the whole body is made of flesh, but the essential mass is the trunk and the thighs. It is there that we find the real universe, hidden by the universe of our limited perception' (Y. Klein quoted in S. Stich, Yves Klein, Ostfildern 1994, p. 175).
ANT 40 represents a marriage of two female bodies seemingly moving and turning within a mystical blue space during a moment of apparent transcendence. Set onto a mottled and shimmering blue, water-marked surface that in places has also been sprinkled with light touches of gold, it is a rare and dynamic Anthropometry painting that appears to fuse two of Klein's great series of works: the Anthropométries and the Cosmogonies. First acquired directly from the artist by the present owner, this is the first time ANT 40 has been seen by the public for over forty years.
Marking a dramatic reintroduction of the human figure into predominantly abstract nature of the art of the time, Klein's Anthropométries were a sequence of often startlingly dynamic paintings made, under the artist's direction, from the imprints of nude women coated in paint so as to become the artist's 'living brushes'. Usually made in Klein's own patented, intensely resonant blue pigment that he maintained to be indicative of a mystic immateriality (International Klein Blue), these works were a conceptual extension of Klein's two great earlier series of works, his monolithic and conceptual 'propositions' of the void - the IKB monochromes - and his magnificent, strangely organic and otherworldly sponge relief landscapes. Like Jackson Pollock's drips and Lucio Fontana's slashes before them, the highly painterly corporeal traces generated by the energy and performance of the painted model's action in Klein's Anthropométries provided a series of potent and enduring gestural signs of human interaction with the void.
Klein described his Anthropométries in this respect as simply 'the mark of the moment states of the flesh' and he saw in them a direct connection with the other great art that he practiced, judo. Indeed, in many respects, the Anthropométries can be seen as painterly expressions of the judoka's concept of the body as a physical, sensorial and spiritual centre of energy whose power resides specifically in the controlled and disciplined release of this energy to the outside. Imprints of the body left in the sand on the beach or on the judo mat for example had provided a deep inspiration for Klein and often featured in the films he made and other of his works long before he created the Anthropométries.
In 'dynamic' Anthropométries such as ANT 40 which records two separate impressions of Klein's female model, it was with just such a calligraphic sense of motion and animation along with the vital, living, and motional quality of the flesh, that Klein was concerned. Such works make active use of the body as brush to create a mesmerizing calligraphy that appears to speak of the fleeting temporal nature of existence and the spiritual energy continually pulsing through the body.
ANT 40, with its almost totemic image of a female torso boldly imprinted in thick International Klein Blue at its very centre is a rare example from the series in that here the human form has here been imprinted onto a blue rain or water-splattered surface that in places has also been sprinkled with light touches of gold in the manner of Klein's Cosmogonies. Begun in March 1960, and named with reference to the title of the 1949 book on Rosicrucianism, La Cosmologie des Rose-Croix by Max Heindel that had such a efining influence on Klein, the Cosmogonies, were a simple and direct extension of the Anthropométries into the wider and more open realm of nature. In the same way that the Anthropométries were 'the mark of the moment states of the flesh', Klein's Cosmogonies marked 'the moment states of nature.' Recording in monochrome blue on paper the impressions made by the vital energy of the natural world in the form of reeds blowing in the wind, or rain falling through a blue mist, the Cosmogonies mark a translation of his 'Anthropometric' processing of an image into the infinite spatial and temporal dimension of the cosmos. Created by the constantly changing elements of life and nature around them, these works, recording the light, the heat, the cold, the wind and the rain are traces of the immaterial pattern and flux of the universe and as such provide an ideal counterpart and backdrop for an Anthropometry. Like some of Klein's more ambitious combinations of Anthropométries and Cosmogonies within a single work therefore, ANT 40 is a painting whose lone, iconic, flash-like image of a human torso imprinted in motion against the apparent flux background of a cosmic blue background, encompasses the full range of Klein's mystic vision.
Material markings in deep blue of the corporeal essence of the human form-its torso-Klein's Anthropométries are essentially icons or symbols of the inner vitality, energy and life of human beings translated into freeform, gestural and immaterially blue brushwork. An evolution of the earlier concept of the monochrome into the realm of action, gesture and performance, these works provide a pictorial parallel to that of Klein's own creative journey and the total immersion and dissolution of his own identity and being into the art he called 'the monochrome adventure'. Of all of Klein's works, in fact, it is the Anthropomtéries that perhaps best encapsulate the artist's enduring mystical belief in the ultimate destiny of mankind being a similar total immersion and dissolution of the self into the immaterial world of the spirit - what he famously defined and indeed demonstrated as a 'leap into the void'.
Pure pigment and synthetic resin on paper laid down on canvas
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SWISS COLLECTION
Yves Klein , Paintings, France, Post War
Lausanne, Galerie Bonnier, Yves Klein, Le Monochrome: Empreintes, 1964, no. 6 (illustrated, unpaged).
POST-WAR & CONTEMPORARY ART
42¾ x 29 5/8in. (108.4 x 75.1cm.)
Le Merveilleux Moderne: Det Underbara Moderna, Det Underbara Idag, exh. cat., Lund, Lunds Konsthall, 1965 (illustrated).
E. Genauer, Klein's Games Of Games, New York 1967, pp. 33-34 (illustrated, p. 34).
P. Wember, Yves Klein, Cologne 1969, no. ANT 40 (illustrated, p. 104).
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner circa 1961.
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.