Friday, 18 December 2009

Yves Klein

Yves Klein or The Dead Dealer Thierry De Duve

“Having rejected nothingness, I discovered the void. The meaning of the immaterial pictorial zones, extracted from the depth of the void which by that time was of a very material order. Finding it unacceptable to sell these immaterial zones for money, I insisted in exchange for the highest quality of the immaterial, the highest quality of material payment — a bar of pure gold. Incredible as it may seem, I have actually sold a number of these pictorial immaterial states . . . Painting no longer appeared to me to be functionally related to the gaze, since during the blue monochrome period of 1957 I became aware of what I called the pictorial sensibility. This pictorial sensibility exists beyond our being and yet belongs in our sphere. We hold no right of possession over life itself. It is only by the intermediary of our taking possession of sensibility that we are able to purchase life. Sensibility enables us to pursue life to the level of its base material manifestations, in the exchange and barter that are the universe of space, the immense totality of nature.” Yves Klein, from the Chelsea Hotel Manifesto, 1961 [15]

Zone de Sensibilité Picturale Immatérielle (Zone of immaterial pictorial sensibility) is an artist's book and performance by the french artist Yves Klein. The work involved the sale of documentation of ownership of empty space (the Immaterial Zone), taking the form of a cheque, in exchange for gold; if the buyer wished, the piece could then be completed in an elaborate ritual in which the buyer would burn the cheque, and Klein would throw half of the gold into the Seine [1]. The ritual would be performed in the presence of an art critic or distinguished dealer, an art museum director and at least two witnesses [1].

Reception of the Work
The French press delighted in calling the event 'a scandal' (Klein Sells Wind!), but others were more impressed; [1] Various members of the group present to watch Michael Blankfort's ritual transaction, for instance, on February 10th 1962, concurred that the event was 'extremely awe-inspiring' [1], ending with the noonday chimes ringing out from churches all around Paris. Blankfort, a Hollywood writer, wrote later of having "no other experience in art equal to the depth of feeling of [the sale ceremony]. It evoked in me a shock of self-recognition and an explosion of awareness of time and space." [16]
It has been suggested that the work is a response to Walter Benjamin's The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction [17], in which he wrote “The unique value of the ‘authentic’ work of art has its basis in ritual, the location of its original use value.” [18] If so, the Zones directly refute Benjamin's central argument, that modern mass production can finally "emancipate the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual" [18].
"Believe me, one is not robbed when one buys such paintings; it is I who am always robbed because I accept money." Yves Klein

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