Yves Klein - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Sunday, November 28, 2021 | Phillips

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  • “Blue has no dimensions; it is beyond dimensions, whereas the other colours are not... All colours arouse specific associative ideas... while blue suggests at most the sea and sky, and they, after all, are in actual, visible nature what is most abstract.” — Yves Klein

    French artist Yves Klein famously declared the blue sky to be his first artwork and from there continued finding radical new ways to represent the infinite in his works. He is perhaps best known for his use of the distinctive vivid ultramarine pigment which he claimed to have invented and later trademarked as ‘International Klein Blue’ (IKB). With this, Klein kicked off his ‘blue revolution’ and from 1962 began transforming everyday items and antique works from the Louvre by covering them in IKB paint. His aim was for this series to ‘take over the world’ and ‘make it more beautiful’. As multiples, these works were meant to spread Klein’s theories and messages around the world, acting as ambassadors to his monochrome world.


    Klein’s early artistic journey was defined by a search for creative freedom, rejecting the conventional representational boundaries of painting. With IKB, Klein immersed himself in the purity of this immaterial space, believing that the colour allows our eyes to penetrate what seems to be a limitless depth. Inspired by the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, Klein explained, ‘First there is nothing, then a depth of nothingness, then a profundity of blue’. i



    Portrait of Yves Klein 
    Photograph taken by Willy Maywald


    Fascinated with this signature blue monochrome, which resembled the semi-precious lapis lazuli used to paint the Madonna's robes in Renaissance paintings, Klein applied it in almost every single part of his practice, with performance art and sculpture no exception. In Esclave mourant d'après Michel-Ange, Klein applies IKB to a plaster cast of the famous sculpture by the Renaissance master Michelangelo. Described as capturing ‘that moment when life capitulates before the relentless force of dead matter’ by the art historian Richard Fly, IKB revives Esclave mourant with a boundless universe perceived beyond the frailty of human form.


    One of the most brilliant artists of his generation, Klein’s untimely death from a heart attack at the age of 34 did not diminish the profound influence of his work on the development of contemporary art. Today, Klein’s work forms part of many prestigious institutions around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Tate Modern, London.



    iYves Klein, ‘The Evolution of Art Towards the Immaterial’,  Art in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, Malden, 2003, p. 819


    • Provenance

      Estate of the Artist

    • Literature

      Paul Wember, Yves Klein, Cologne, 1969, p. 98, no. S 20 (another example illustrated)
      Sidra Stich, Yves Klein, Stuttgart, 1994, p. 247, no. 113 (another example illustrated)
      Jean-Paul Ledeur, Yves Klein: Catalogue raisonné des éditions et sculptures éditées, Knokke-le-Zoute, 1999, p. 248 (another example illustrated)
      Nicolas Charlet, Yves Klein, Paris, 2000, n.p. (another example illustrated)


L'Esclave mourant d'après Michel-Ange (S20) (The Dying Slave after Michelangelo (S20))

printed with the artist's signature, inscribed and numbered 'Yves Klein "S20 l'esclave mourant d'après Michel Ange" 285/300 R. Klein Moquay' on a label affixed to the underside
IKB pigment and synthetic resin on plaster
60 x 22 x 15 cm. (23 5/8 x 8 5/8 x 5 7/8 in.)
Conceived in 1962 and cast in 1992, this work is number 285 from an edition of 300 plus 50 hors commerce, and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Rotraut Klein Moquay.

Full Cataloguing

HK$380,000 - 550,000 

Sold for HK$529,200

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2021