Christie’s announced today a significant Yves Klein work for its November Post-War and Contemporary art sale in New York. Barbara (ANT113) from 1960 is offered with an estimate of between $12m and $18m.
“One day, I understood that my hands, the tools by which I manipulated color, were no longer sufficient. I
needed to paint monochrome canvases with the models themselves” – Yves Klein
Yves Klein’s monumental Barbara (ANT 113), 1960 (estimate: $12-18 million) will highlight Christie’s Evening Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art on 13 November. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this work will benefit The Water Academy for Sustainable and Responsible Development Foundation.
The Water Academy SRD is an international initiative whose mission is to create a new Culture of Water to address these challenges and the ones related to the Sustainable and Responsible Development.
Founded in 2016 and based in Switzerland, their activities help facilitate the establishment, advancement and exchange of scientific and cultural information addressing the issue of water resource access and management, as well to foster Higher Education in this domain; and to play a vital role in establish and promoting a new Culture of Water. The organisation helps fund Integrated Scientific Research, Higher Education and short-learning programs as well as hosting an annual Symposium dedicated to diverse water-related subjects. Following on from a successful fundraising event at Christie’s in Milan in Spring 2019, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this work will directly support their ongoing activities.
With its blue corporeal form suspended within a vast white void, Barbara (ANT 113), is an exceptional, monumentally-scaled example of Yves Klein’s groundbreaking Anthropométries series. In the artist’s signature International Klein Blue (IKB) pigment, the work registers multiple impacts of the human body that pressed the surface, creating a larger- than-life trace of the figure, hovering, as if caught in motion. Seeking to make visible the immaterial dimension of physical being, the Anthropométries were created by nude female models, coated with paint, who imprinted their bodies upon paper and canvas under Klein’s choreographic direction.
Executed in 1960, the year Klein inaugurated the series with a seminal live performance, ANT 113 belongs to a select subset of Anthropométries in which the body appears to take flight. Contorted and disoriented into an abstracted figure, three sets of breasts and torsos intertwine at the base of the canvas. It is a composition shared by a small number of works from 1960, including Princess Helena (Museum of Modern Art, New York) and ANT 130 (Museum Ludwig, Cologne).
While the Anthropométries stood in sharp contrast to much of the art that was being produced at the dawn ‘60s, they did resonate with a number of trends emerging during this period. In a world largely dominated by abstraction, several artists were increasingly drawn to the idea of the indexical imprint as a means of re-engaging with the human figure.
The shape of the present work invites comparison with Matisse’s 1952 work La Chevelure (The Flowing Hair). At the same time, the performative, theatrical nature of the Anthropométries aligns them with the “Happenings” staged by John Cage and the Fluxus artists, the action paintings of Jackson Pollock and, to a degree, the body-orientated art of the Japanese Gutai group.
Ultimately, the significance of the Anthropométries lies in their status as a culmination of Klein’s own artistic journey. If he conceived his practice as a progressive immersion of his own being and identity into the realm of his art, then the Anthropométries stand as a moment of breakthrough. Tuxedo-clad, Klein was orchestrator, composer and master of ceremonies: an omniscient creator who cut to the essence of the human spirit without ever laying a finger upon the canvas.