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.
“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.”
For FC 1, Klein hired two models to act as his “brushes.” In the first step of the creative process, the models were doused with water and under Klein’s direction pressed themselves onto the large sheet of specially treated cardboard. Once the models had left their positions, Klein, using a large torch-like device, directed an intense flame toward the board, charring parts of the surface. Where the models had pressed against the surface, the moisture-soaked cardboard resisted the scorching effect of the flames, leaving ghostly apparitions of the bodies hovering on the picture plane.
Klein also used water to create pictorial effects, interweaving splashes, spots and drips in the layers of the image.
For the next step, the models coated themselves lightly with a subtle pink paint, which left delicate impressions of their breasts and thighs as they pressed against the surface of the board. Finally, Klein instructed the models to apply a thicker coat of his IKB pigment to leave a last impression on the surface, while he enhanced their silhouettes by spraying both pink and blue pigment onto the work with an airbrush.
In this way, the work was created without any direct touch from the artist. Since the era of the cave painters, artistic practice had always been defined by the act of making a mark on a surface.