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Untitled Fire Colour Painting (FC 28)
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About the item

Formed by scorched golden-traces of fire and a bursting explosion of Klein’s ultramarine pigment, the physical expression of Untitled Fire Colour Painting (FC 28) encapsulates the most experimental and ultimate phase of Klein’s aesthetic exploration;  the celebrated fire colour paintings. In the late 1950s Klein isolated a luminous blue monochrome as the focus of his painterly endeavour towards ‘spiritual materialism’; however by the 1960s, fire had become the decisive element and conclusive weapon in Klein’s arsenal. As outlined by Pierre Restany, Klein “found in the line of fire the language of his truth and the truth of his language. No other technique would be able to procure for him such ease, liberty, and an opening onto his infinity and the infinity of others, onto the in-itself and the for-itself of things” (Pierre Restany, Yves Klein: Fire at the Heart of the Void, Putnam 2005, p. 45). In 1961 Klein began work on his corpus of fire paintings at a research facility owned by the French government, located near Paris at the Centre d'Essais du Gaz de France in Saint-Denis. For a few days the artist explored the possibilities of variously scorching Swedish reinforced cardboard. This magnetised surface was highly resistant and could only be combusted using the experimental laboratories’ giant coke gas burners capable of covering large areas. Yves Klein’s first major retrospective at the Museum Haus Lange in Krefeld at the beginning of 1961 also heralded, to much acclaim, the presentation of his Wall and Fountain of Fire. As a pure demonstration of fire’s artistic alchemy, this extraordinary installation burned a nonstop blue-golden-pink flame in the form of a Bunsen burner wall and butane-gas fed fountain in the museum’s park. It was here that Klein truly acknowledged the twin-fold attraction and repulsion of fire as his ultimate sublimatory medium; indeed, it was the public’s positive response to these works which confirmed for Klein the means by which his Blue Revolution would be accomplished.\nBy employing the alchemical potential of fire as a dually destructive and creative force, Klein executed a transcendence of his iconic and ground-breaking corpus of IKB monochromes; the deep and resonating ultramarine pigment developed by Klein in 1956 and patented in 1960 for its chromatic evocation of the indefinable and immaterial void. For Klein fire represented the elemental force par excellence of symbolic, spiritual and physical transfiguration. As expounded by Klein in his 'Chelsea Hotel Manifesto' of 1961: “In sum, my goal is twofold: first of all, to register the trace of human sentimentality in present-day civilisation; secondly to register the trace of fire which has engendered this very same civilisation. And this because the void has always been my constant preoccupation; and I hold that in the heart of the void as well as in the heart of man, fires are burning” (Yves Klein, ‘Chelsea Hotel Manifesto’ (1961) in: ibid., p. XV).\nHowever, distinct from the pure fire paintings created via a fixed position of the fire hose, the spontaneous introduction of coloured pigment after the application of fire, affects an extraordinary degree of flamboyant gesture that recalls Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings. Forming part of what is known as the Baroque fire colour paintings; Untitled Fire Colour Painting is one of a small number of strident works that stand distinguished from the entirety of Klein’s oeuvre for their unrivalled gestural ferocity and apocalyptic exuberance. Standing at the very apogee and testament to what would become the end point of Klein’s investigation, dramatically curtailed by the artist’s death in 1962, Untitled Fire Colour Painting is a stunning coalition of colour’s pure pictorial power and fire’s spontaneous and beautiful, yet destructive alchemy central to Klein’s pictorial progression towards the dissolution of form.
GB
GB
GB

medium

Dry pigment and synthetic resin on burnt cardboard mounted on wood 

creator

Yves Klein

condition

Colour: The colour in the catalogue illustration is fairly accurate, although the overall tonality is deeper and richer in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Very close inspection reveals a few minor and unobtrusive depressions and indentations notably towards the lower right and top right corners, some of which are visible in the catalogue illustration. There is a minor crease to the bottom right corner tip. "In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

dimensions

92 by 73cm.; 36 1/4 by 28 3/4 in.

exhibition

Cologne, Museum Ludwig; Dusseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen; London, Hayward Gallery; and Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Yves Klein, 1994-95, p. 229, no. 105, illustrated in colour Basel, Musée Jean Tinguely, Tinguely's Favourites: Yves Klein, 1999-2000, p. 91, illustrated in colour Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt; and Bilbao, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Yves Klein, 2004-05, p. 175, no. 85, illustrated in colour New York, L&M Arts, Yves Klein: A Career Survey, 2005, p. 81, illustrated in colour

literature

Paul Wember, Yves Klein: Catalogue Raisonné, Cologne 1969, p. 136, no. FC 28, illustrated Aphrodite Georgiou, 'Yves Klein: Blue like star dust everywhere', The Art Magazine, 15 February 1995, p. 36, illustrated in colour Pascale Le Thorel, Petit dictionnaire des artistes contemporains, Paris 2000, illustrated on the cover in colour Pierre Nahon, L'Histoire de la Galerie Beaubourg, La Différence, Paris 2009, pp. 110-11, illustrated in colour

provenance

Mme Philippe Durand-Ruel, Paris  Marianne and Pierre Nahon, Paris Mr and Mrs Eric Beyersdorf, Geneva L&M Arts, New York Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2006

consignmentDesignation

Property of a Distinguished Private Collector

creator_nationality_dates

1928 - 1962


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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