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An Enigmatic Klein Masterwork Leads Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Sale

Stephanie Meza

On June 28, Sotheby’s will launch its Contemporary Art Evening Sale in London with Yves Klein’s striking work, RE 49, Relief Eponge Bleu.  Klein’s paradigmatic blue sponge reliefs have generated considerable interest among art collectors in recent years, especially among connoisseurs of abstract expressionist and minimalist works.  This signature piece, which comes from the distinguished HypoVereinsbank Collection, represents the climax of Klein’s oeuvre and is expected to bring between $6.5 million and $9.4 million.

Known for his radically innovative ideals and poetic investigations of spatial ambiguities, Klein’s work exemplifies the quest for immateriality in art. In his Relief Eponge collection, Klein expertly translates his theory of impregnation, a central concept in his work, into tangible matter by demonstrating the transitive dimension of artistic sensibility through the sponges’ passage from artistic device to art itself. With its arrangement of sponges saturated in his trademark International Klein Blue ultramarine pigment, RE 49, Relief Eponge Bleu, which was executed just one year before his untimely death in 1962, displays Klein’s extraordinary capacity to combine the realms of the spiritual and the physical by means of pure color and raw materials. (+44.20.7293.6000, www.sothebys.com)

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Courtesy of Shakespeare and Company - Paul Foster Books - the NY Antiquarian Book Fair
Photo courtesy of Klein Sun Gallery, New York; Li Hongbo