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Christie's to offer a seminal Yves Klein sponge relief from the Brooklyn Museum's collection
Yves Klein, Accord Bleu (Sponge Relief). Painted sponges on particle board, 20 ¾ x 53 ¾ x 3 in. (51.8 x 136.5 x 7.6 cm.). Executed in 1958. Estimate: $7,000,000-10,000,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2012.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s will offer Accord Bleu (Sponge Relief) an important painted sponge relief, unseen on the market since 1960. Consigned by the Brooklyn Museum, all proceeds from the sale will be directed to the creation of a board-designated fund for the purchase of work by contemporary artists. Dated from 1958, Accord Bleu (Sponge Relief) is one of the first relief using sponges, a technique which became a metaphor in Klein’s work, as its porous surface completely absorbed his signature ‘IKB’ blue color, giving a material presence to the immaterial. This work is one of the first, small-format sponge reliefs, as designs for the monumental decoration of the Gelsenkirchen theatre in Germany, commissioned in 1958.

In January 1958, Yves Klein was among the four artists commissioned to decorate the new Gelsenkirchen Opera House in Germany. The construction work would last fourteen months. Music, drama and the idea of a Gesamtkunstwerk (universal artwork) combined to inspire the artist’s first sponge reliefs on a scale that, for the period, was no less than considerable in size. Klein created six giant murals: four IKB sponge reliefs and two textured blue monochromes. The horizontal orientation of Accord Bleu (Sponge Relief), in combination with the inscription of ‘Gelsenkirchen – 58’, further links the work to Klein’s period working on this important project. The time Klein spent at the Gelsenkirchen theatre is one of the most pivotal moments in his career for several reasons, including the international recognition it provided and one of the first times that the artist created reliefs using sponges, something that would become a signature style in the following years.

Klein's sponge-reliefs are among the finest and most important creations in his oeuvre. It was for him a physical manifestation of the dialogue that he hoped to induce between the "sensibility" of the viewer and the vast monochromatic expanse of intense blue that emanated from his paintings.

Yves Klein noted in a text for his 1957 show with Colette Allendy: "When working on my pictures in the studio, I sometimes used sponges. Naturally they turned blue very rapidly! One day I noticed how beautiful the blue in the sponge was, and the tool immediately became a raw material. The extraordinary capacity of sponges to absorb everything fluid fascinated me. Thanks to the sponges I was going to be able to make portraits of the observers of my monochromes, who, after having seen, after having voyaged in the blue of my pictures, return totally impregnated in sensibility, as are the sponges."

The Trustees of the Brooklyn Museum have voted to deaccession and sell Accord Bleu (Sponge Relief), a 1958 work by the French artist Yves Klein. The work will be sold to establish a board-designated fund for the purchase of work by contemporary artists. While recognizing that the Klein is an important work, the Museum feels strongly that it can better serve the public by using funds realized from the sale of this seldom-exhibited work, which has little context at the Brooklyn Museum, to further enhance its already dynamic acquisition program in contemporary art, in accordance with the collection plan approved by the Board of Trustees.

“While the Yves Klein is an exceptional work of art, there is no context for it within the collection of the Brooklyn Museum. For this reason, it has been exhibited only once in the two decades it has been in the Museum's collection. The proceeds from its sale will create a fund that will be used to actively acquire 21st century works that will dramatically enhance the Museum's already forward-looking collection and is in keeping with the Museum's strategic collection plan. We believe this direction will better serve the Museum's visitors both today and in the future" declared Arnold L. Lehman, Director of the Brooklyn Museum

Yves Klein, Accord Bleu (Sponge Relief), executed in 1958, came to the Brooklyn Museum in 1992 as a bequest from former Trustee William K. Jacobs. Mr. Jacobs acquired the work on June 21, 1960 from Galerie Rive Droite in Paris.

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September 29, 2012

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