Following the success of the exhibition, the French artist then took the idea one step further by offering collectors the opportunity to purchase a series of non-existent, entirely conceptual spaces in exchange for a weight of pure gold. .
A handful of buyers accepted the offer. And now, nearly 60 years after Klein’s death, one of the receipts he wrote to prove ownership of his invisible works of art is up for sale, with auction house Sotheby’s believing it could fetch up to 500,000 euros ($551,000).
Measuring less than 8 inches wide, the receipt grants ownership of one of Klein’s imaginary spaces, which he dubbed “Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility.” Designed to look like a bank cheque, it is signed by the artist and dated December 7, 1959.
A receipt for “invisible” art could bring in half a million dollars. Credit: Sotheby’s
The receipt was originally given to antiques dealer Jacques Kugel and is one of the few to survive, Sotheby’s said in a press release. It’s not just because Klein struggled to sell many imaginary works, but because he offered his customers a choice: keep their receipt or burn them in a ritual.
If they had chosen the latter, they would be considered the “final owner” of the concept work. As part of Klein’s performance art, he would then burn the receipt in the presence of witnesses before dumping half of the gold he received into the Seine.
Kugel chose to keep his, and it has since been exhibited in major art institutions across Europe, including the Hayward Gallery in London and the Center Pompidou in Paris. The object is put up for sale by art consultant and former gallery owner Loïc Malle, who is auctioning more than 100 objects from his private collection.
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Sotheby’s also confirmed, in a press release, that the successful bidder “will not become the depositary of this historic receipt, but also of Klein’s invisible work of art”.
Klein, who died in 1962, was a key figure in the New Realism (New Realism) movement, which used art to subvert viewers’ perceptions of reality. In 1957, he opened an exhibition in Milan consisting of 11 blue canvases, identical in shape, color and size. His best-known work, however, is the 1960 photograph “Leap into the Void”, which appeared to show the artist leaping from a high wall, although it was actually a composite of two separate images. .