The immateriality of artworks by peterfuchs
September 19, 2008, 11:50 am
Filed under: Art as Gift Research blog | Tags:
Seconds after the Leap Into the Void, a performance by Yves Klein

Seconds after the Leap Into the Void, a performance by Yves Klein

Even trough there are many artist who archived much in the process of dematerialize contemporary art works, a few matches Yves Klein, who, with an ultimate gesture, wasted a small quantity of gold into the river Seine.

“Moreover, Klein sought a way to evaluate his ‘immaterial pictorial sensitivity’ and decided that pure gold would be a fair exchange. He offered to sell it to any person willing to purchase such an extraordinary, if intangible, commodity, in exchange for gold leaf. Several ‘sales ceremonies’ were conducted: one took place on the banks of the River Seine on 10 February 1962. Gold leaf and a receipt changed hands between the artist and the purchaser. But since ‘immaterial sensitivity’ could be nothing but a spiritual quality, Klein insisted that all remains of the transaction be destroyed: he threw the gold leaf into the river and requested that the purchaser burn the receipt. There were seven purchasers in all.” (via Webhaven gallery, From the book “Performance Art” by RoseLee Goldberg, Thames and Hudson, London, 1988)

Yves Klein pouring gold into the river Seine, 1962

Yves Klein pouring gold into the river Seine, 1962

Wikipedia tells the following about the transaction:

In the performance piece, Zones de Sensibilité Picturale Immatérielle (Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility) 1959-62, he offered empty spaces in the city in exchange for gold. He wanted his buyers to experience The Void by selling them empty space. In his view this experience could only be paid for in the purest material: gold. In exchange, he gave a certificate of ownership to the buyer. As the second part of the piece, performed on the Seine with an Art critic in attendance, if the buyer agreed to set fire to the certificate, Klein would throw half the gold into the river, in order to restore the “natural order” that he had unbalanced by selling the empty space (that was now not “empty” anymore). He used the other half of the gold to create a series of gold-leafed works, which, along with a series of pink monochromes, began to augment his blue monochromes toward the end of his life.


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