Press Release
11 October 2005
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Michael Werner Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of 'fire'paintings by Yves Klein. (1928-1962)

Drawn to the blue expanses of sea and sky of the Mediterranean coast near his place of birth, Nice, the colors blue and gold, immateriality, and nature's elements were materials and motifs that Klein drew upon consistently throughout his life. From 1942 to 1946, he studied at the Ecole Nationale de la Marine Marchande and the Ecole Nationale des Langues Orientales and began practicing judo. He composed his first Symphonie monoton in 1947, an instrumental ensemble which consisted of a single sustained note. During the years 1948 to 1952, he traveled to Italy, Great Britain, Spain, and Japan. It was not until 1955 that Klein settled permanently in Paris, where he was given a solo exhibition at the Club des Solitaires.

Exhibitions of his first blue monochromes were held in Paris in 1957 at both the Galerie Iris Clert and the Galerie Colette Allendy. And in 1958, he began using nude models as 'living paintbrushes' to create the series of work he called anthropometries. Two years later, the first manifesto of the group Nouveaux RĂ©alistes was written by the French critic Pierre Restany and signed by Arman, Klein, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, and other artists who incorporated collage and as Duchamp had previously, the use of real objects into their work. It was at this same time Klein created and patented the ultramarine color known as International Klein Blue or IKB.

In 1961, one year before he died prematurely from a heart attack at the age of 34, Klein was given a retrospective at the Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, organized by its director Paul Wember. Entitled 'Monochrome and Fire' this important exhibition included the installation on the museum's lawn of his Fire Sculpture, two large columns of flames that rose three meters off the ground and the Wall of Fire, where fifty Bunsen flames burned in a grid-like pattern. On the last day of the exhibition, Klein took imprints of these sculptures, holding compressed paper up to the flames to create the first of the fire paintings (F.97, included in the exhibition). He continued to explore this burning process at the Centre d'Essais du Gaz de France, the central research laboratory of the National Gasworks of France, incorporating water, paint and even live models as in his earlier anthropometry series.

Although well-known for his monochromes, Klein's use of fire in this final series of work emphasizes the artist's lifelong pre-occupation with the elemental forces of nature and the creative process. Creating imprints with an ignited torch references the same manifestation of form and action present in his earlier performative pieces. Additionally, it links him to other artists and philosophers who also worked with or wrote about fire and influenced him such as Albergo Burri, Otto Piene, Gaston Bachelard and Carl Jung.

This exhibition offers an in-depth look at a group of works that were seminal in Klein's oeuvre but have rarely been seen before. These fire paintings further illuminate the artist's engagement and experimentation with science by combining the element of fire with the act of painting, enabling him to record what Klein himself called 'the presence of absence, the mark of life'

The exhibition will be on view from 1 November 2005 through 21 January 2006. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 AM until 6 PM.

A full-color catalog with a text will accompany the exhibition.

For further information, please contact the gallery.