Christie’s to auction Yves Klein Painting FC 1

. April 6, 2012

Christie’s announced 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.


Yves Klein (1928-1962), FC 1 (Fire-Color 1) detail, dry pigment and synthetic resin on panel. Executed in 1962. Estimate: $30 – 40 million. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2012.

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. “Oceana is very grateful to be a part of this opportunity, and it is beautiful to see that fifty years after his death, Yves Klein is now giving back to the oceans through his work” commented Andy Sharpless, Oceana CEO. “Now the oceans are in trouble. People everywhere are stepping up to restore and protect them. This partnership with Christie’s is a perfect example of the kind of creative thinking that helps produce the policy changes that will save the oceans.”

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.

“Oceana is very grateful to be a part of this opportunity, and it is beautiful to see that fifty years after his death, Yves Klein is now giving back to the oceans through his work” commented Andy Sharpless, Oceana CEO. “Now the oceans are in trouble. People everywhere are stepping up to restore and protect them. This partnership with Christie’s is a perfect example of the kind of creative thinking that helps produce the policy changes that will save the oceans.”

“Yves Klein?s FC 1 is to Europe what Pollock?s NUMBER ONE is to America. It is the ultimate heroic work fusing all of the elements that Klein learnt to master over his short and intense career. FC1 perfectly embodies Klein?s obsession with the irreconcilable concept of presence and absence, life and death; this painting took an enormous emotional and physical toll on the artist. FC1 was Klein?s last, but perhaps most poignant feat as an artist, and is expected to break the record for any Post War European work of art.” stated Loic Gouzer, International Specialist, Post-War and Contemporary Art.

“This painting, which for me is his absolute masterpiece, came close to not existing. The session was over; he had exhausted all his strength and was sitting down wiping off his sweat and trying to resume his normal breathing. In the left-hand corner of the studio I pointed out a panel which Yves had forgotten. The fire had to be rekindled and the models watched, fascinated as we all were, as Yves completed this masterpiece, arguably the greatest of his career and I am convinced of the 20th Century. I felt guilty about this for years afterwards, I should have told him to stop. I felt responsible for what happened a few weeks later.” (Yves Klein died in June 1962 at the age of 34) wrote Rotraut Klein-Moquay in March 2012, in a personal account to Loic Gouzer. “The feeling was even stronger when we worked at the „Gaz de France?; the atelier was cold, huge, and draughty, bitter winter in Paris. The hard physical conditions in close contact with the primeval elements, fire and water, turned the experience into a veritable rite of passage. I feel that these experiences were somehow crucial in my development as someone involved in creation.” remembers Elena Palumbo-Mosca, Yves Klein’s favorite model. FC 1 depicts the ethereal images of two female figures seemingly dancing or rising amid the fiery blue, gold and red flame-licked surface. The bodies hover on the borderline of abstraction, between the realms of the material and the immaterial. For Klein, this was the pictorial expression of the auspicious moment of transcendence or transmutation, seen as a kind of ritualistic and celestial dance of figures into an abstract realm. Indeed, in FC 1 the demonstrably joyous physical essences of the youthful figures seem like angels in the fiery void, at the very same time that their immutable imprints remain materially assertive on the shimmering surface of the picture.

Category: Auction News

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