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Yves Klein (France 1928‑1962)

”L’esclave mourant d’après Michel-Ange” (S 20)

To be sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary 18-19 November 2020

Lot 573 Yves Klein (France 1928‑1962). ”L’esclave mourant d’après Michel-Ange” (S 20). Stamped with the artist’s signature, titled and numbered Yves Klein S 20 l’esclave mourant d’après Michel Ange 51/300 and signed R Klein Moquay (on a label affixed to the underside). Dry blue pigment (IKB) in synthetic resin on plaster cast, Height 60 cm. Mounted in a plexi-glass box.

Conceived in 1962 and executed in 1992 by J. P. Ledeur, Paris, in an edition of three hundred plus fifty hors-commerce proofs numbered I/L to L/L.
A certificate issued by Rotraut Klein Moquay, numbered 51/300 is included with this lot.


450.000 – 500.000 SEK
€ 43.000 – 48.000


Jean-Paul Ledeur, Yves Klein; Matierisme et Immateriel, 2000, the subject illustrated p. 248.

In context

Yves Klein’s “L’esclave mourant d’après Michel-Ange” – A Klein blue interpretation

Yves Klein was a mystic, a spiritualist and a conceptualist with the vision to express the immaterial and the endless through colour. He never took any formal training in painting, but grew up in a creative home where both his parents were artists. He was born in Nice and lived in the younger years in Paris with his family but spent the summers on the French Riviera. Here he made the acquaintance of the poet Claude Pascal and the burgeoning sculptor Arman. One night sitting on the beach, the three friends divided the world between them: Arman chose the material world, Pascal the air and the words, while Klein was presented the endless space of the heavens. This made a great impact on his art from that time onwards. United by shared enthusiasm for physical training, the three considered judo to be the sport to provide an almost spiritual perception of space. Klein travelled frequently around Europe and also went to Japan in 1953, where he became, at the age of 25, a master at judo receiving the rank of yodan (4th dan/degree black-belt) from the Kodokan, becoming the first European to rise to that rank.

Yves Klein started to paint monochromes already in 1949. In his eyes, clear ties existed between gold, blue and pink. Together these three colours created the flow between the transient material world and the spiritual state. The colours created a ’holy trinity’, where Monoblue represented the endless, Monogold spirituality and Monopink love. His ambition was to stimulate feelings and sensations without depending on lines, figures or abstract symbols. The blue colour became more and more important for the artist and in 1957 he created the International Klein Blue (IKB) in collaboration with the Parisian paint supplier Edouard Adam. IKB uses ultramarine pigment with a matte, synthetic resin binder which suspends the colour and allows the pigment to maintain as much of its original qualities and intensity of colour as possible. The colour was described as ”The Medium” by the artist and expressed what he was striving to achieve; the sense of limitless space within the pure colour. Not only canvases, panels and sponges were painted in blue. Also performances in which Klein painted his models naked bodies and then let them walk, roll and lie on canvases. A type of work he called ”Anthropométries”. At times, these performances were accompanied by Klein’s musical work ”La Symphonie Monoton” that featured just a single chord.

The artist also appropriated plaster casts of famous sculptures, such as the ”Victory of Samothrace”, ”Venus de Milo” and Michelangelo’s ”The Dying Slave”, by painting them International Klein Blue. Many of these works were later manufactured as editioned multiples. The sculpture in this auction captures the pristine, untouched brilliance and optical effect of Yves Klein’s own colour – the International Klein Blue.

”… Le bleue, couleur de l’air. De l’eau et de l’horizon, sur laquelle de préfrence reposent les perspectives, ce bleu est calme, froid et trouble…” – Yves Klein 1962

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