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Yves Klein: void is a topic

The void was a subject that has always haunted him.

Long before NFTs, it was Yves Klein who excelled in the art of convincing people to pay to buy…nothingness. His “areas of immaterial pictorial sensitivity” (Zone de sensibilité picturale immatérielle) were certainly sold to collectors in exchange for gold.

Except that these lucky buyers were urged to throw half of this gold at the same time as the certificate of authenticity issued by Klein into the Seine River, and this on the occasion of a ceremony as surreal as it was pseudo-funeral.

Practiced between 1959 until Klein's death in 1962, these immaterial zones are no more than memories today because very few collectors had to keep the certificates signed by Klein's hand, the overwhelming majority of them having opted to play the game and to sacrifice them at the same time as the gold to the Seine.

This act being intended to rebalance this natural order which had been upset by the initial action of sale.

Klein had already explored the void a year earlier on the occasion of his famous exhibition at the Galerie Iris Clert in 1959 entitled “Le Vide” where visitors were invited to gather in an absolutely empty space.

The contemporary rush towards NFTs, which are only certificates attesting to a property, therefore seems very familiar to us because it was Yves Klein who was the pioneer in this concept of issuing a certificate acting as a work of art.

The banana sold at Art Basel in Miami in 2019 by Maurizio Cattelan is, from this point of view, in no way revolutionary…

Klein asks us philosophical and even metaphysical questions: our assets, our holdings, will continue to be bought and sold long after we are gone.

Klein thus tries to explain to us that we never really possess anything, if not our lived experiences.

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