Christie’s adds to the list of Contemporary blockbuster works on offer in May. This one is Yves Klein’s FC1, estimated at between $30 and $40m, a price that would obliterate the previous record of $23.5m paid for the solid gold MG9 in the last glory days of the art market peak before the credit crisis. Bloomberg’s Katya Kazakina gives some background on the consignment:
“It’s really his masterpiece in the proper sense of the word,” said Loic Gouzer, the specialist in postwar and contemporary art who won the consignment for Christie’s. “He was risking his life.”
It shows Klein spraying the models with water as they press their naked bodies against specially treated cardboard panels. Once the models move aside, Klein grabs the blowtorch and directs the flame at the surface.
The steps are repeated as the models coat themselves with paint, leaving the marks of their breasts and thighs. While the artist directed the models and adjusted their positions, he never actually touched the surface with his hand.
“The atelier was cold, huge, and draughty, bitter winter in Paris,” Elena Palumbo-Mosca, one of the models, said in a 1997 interview. “The hard physical conditions in close contact with the primeval elements, fire and water, turned the experience into a veritable rite of passage.”
“I had a cutout of this work as a kid,” said Gouzer. “It’s the painting I was always chasing, but I didn’t know where it was. Finally I tracked it down and just made an offer.”
Christie’s own press release
Fifty years after the artist’s death, Christie’s is proud to announce the upcoming auction of Yves Klein’s legendary Fire-Color Painting FC 1, as the highlight of the Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on May 8. Executed a few weeks before his premature death, at the age of 34, FC 1 is widely acclaimed as his ultimate masterpiece. One of the most important works of Post-War European art to come to the market , FC1 acquired an iconic status soon after the release of Klein’s movie, La Revolution Bleue, where the celebrated recording of the painting’s creation inscribed FC 1 in the 20th Century collective memory. With the creation of FC 1, Klein pushed the concept of the heroic artist to a new level. As an alchemist manipulating the highly volatile elements of gas and fire, Klein created a work that represents the epitome of what he called “dangerous paintings”, where Klein risked his life and the life of his models. Privately owned, FC 1 has been featured prominently in all of his major retrospectives, including those held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC.
A portion of the proceeds of the sale will be donated to OCEANA, the largest international organization working solely to protect the world’s oceans.