Christie's Announces $30m Yves Klein

One of the largest Anthropométrie works still in private hands stars in London-to-Paris relay sale

Christie’s has announced a major work by Yves Klein to anchor its June 28th sale in London. That sale will be conducted as a “relay” sale with Paris. Anthropométrie de l’époque bleue, (ANT 124)is being sold with estimate upon request which means the specialists have retained the flexibility to give serious buyers a better gauge of the market closer to the actual sale but a quick check of the LiveArt price database suggests the work will be sold around the £24 million ($30 million) mark. 


Painted early in 1960, after Klein developed his vivid blue pigment, International Klein Blue pigment, ANT 124 is an important early instance of Klein’s discovery of how he could combine performance and painting. Weeks later, Klein held a performance at the Galerie Internationale d’Art Contemporain, Paris which captured Klein’s desire to fuse the evanescent and material into a single work of art that was both an event and left a lasting record of his work with “human paintbrushes,” the models who soaked their body in his blue pigment and then “applied themselves” to the canvas. 


Like several important painters who came after him, Klein was trying to eliminate the hand of the artist in the creation of his work. He first used rollers to apply IKB to monochrome canvases; then he worked with sponges that would accumulate pigment through absorption; finally, Klein hit upon using figures who would collaborate with him to apply pigment to the canvas. 


Anthropométrie de l’époque bleue, (ANT 124)is a large work, one of the largest Anthropométrie works still in private hands. It’s unique in that the IKB figures made with Klein’s famous human paintbrushes are set on a light blue background. 


The announcement comes after three works by Klein made a total of $27 million in the New York sales. Each of the three lots sold within the estimates indicating sufficient demand. The top lot made just short of $20 million which also suggests the price level for Klein’s work remains high for a suitable object. The price band between $30 million and $45 million remains fairly sparse with only seven works having sold in New York in that region. 

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