The invisible artwork and receipt were created by French artist Yves Klein, who turned out to be a man well ahead of his time. In a sense, you could say he dabbled in NFTs before NFTs were cool (or even existed). And since computers still took up entire buildings when he achieved fame in the mid-20th-century, the notion of selling an artistic concept that could never be physically (let alone digitally) possessed proved highly innovative and provocative.
After all, owning NFTs comes with bragging rights, and the same can be said of the imaginative zones “crafted” by Klein. Here’s what you need to know about the million-dollar auction and the art behind it.
An Artist With an Invisible Vision
Art collectors generally want to leave auctions with the pieces they bid on in hand (or at least in transit with a hefty dose of insurance). But for those who appreciate the work of Yves Klein, the masterpieces came in the form of the sales transaction itself.
Klein created an innovative and entirely imaginative series known as Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility. The series included an artist’s book and a performance by Klein with each receipt. He created eight of these so-called “zones” from 1959 until his death on June 6, 1962. If you’re wondering how Klein verified the existence of invisible artwork, you’re far from alone. Interestingly, he used a ritualized method.
Verifying the Unverifiable
Each time an art collector bought one of Klein’s imaginary zones, the artist went through an elaborate ritual with the buyer. Consider it performance art. He gifted the recipient with a receipt for the work, a verification of the invisible piece’s existence. It was unusual, but some people dug the idea, especially in the increasingly experimental ’60s.
After purchasing one of Klein’s works, buyers followed the “Ritual Rules.” These rules included choosing one of two paths. One, the collector could pay the amount Klein asked for the artwork in gold and keep the receipt. This choice meant they didn’t receive the immaterial artwork’s value. Two, they could pay in gold and burn the receipt. Klein would then throw half the gold in the Seine River, resulting in a successful “exchange” of the authentic immaterial value.
Discovering the Void
Was there an ultimate point to the ritual? According to Klein, the performance communicated art’s incalculable, indefinable value. But the implications of the ritual ran even deeper. During his career, he had become obsessed with the concept of the void, which he translated through his imagination into priceless immaterial zones.
He wrote, “Finding it unacceptable to sell these immaterial zones for money, I insisted in exchange for the highest quality of the immaterial, the highest quality of material payment — a bar of pure gold.” This would lead some in the press to accuse Klein of selling little more than air.
Awareness of Time and Space
But not everyone saw it this way. According to Michael Blankfort, a Hollywood writer who purchased one of Klein’s imaginary zones, “No other experience in art [could] equal the depth of feeling of [the sale ceremony]. It evoked in me a shock of self-recognition and an explosion of awareness of time and space.”
As with all art, the beauty and worth of Klein’s invisible artworks remain in the eye of the beholder. But the fact is, few receipts for his artwork survived because most people burned theirs. This either makes Klein one of the coolest concept artists of the 20th century or one of the best receipt marketers in history as the Sotheby’s auction attests.
By Engrid Barnett, contributor for Ripleys.com
EXPLORE THE ODD IN PERSON!
Art pieces stolen from Campbell River charity – Campbell River Mirror
Two pieces of art were taken from a Campbell River charity over the Victoria Day long weekend, and the Campbell River RCMP is looking for the public’s health to get them back.
A drum hand-painted by Greg Henderson was stolen, as was a framed print of a family of grizzly bears painted by Brent J. Smith.
At this point in time, said Const. Maury Tyre,
we’re hoping that the thieves can redirect their moral compass, as the charity is really just trying to get its art back. The art can be returned no questions asked at this time, but if it comes down to the police completing the investigation and finding someone in possession of the missing pieces of art, charges could end up being sought for possession of property obtained by crime.
The art pieces can be returned to the Campbell River RCMP at their office at 275 S Dogwood Street, Campbell River.
If you have any information regarding the theft of the art pieces or their possible location, please contact the Campbell River RCMP at 250-286-6221.
ARTS AROUND: Spring-inspired art exhibit opens at Rollin Art Centre – Alberni Valley News
A new exhibit at the Rollin Art Centre features 16 locals artists, each displaying their own creative renditions of the season of spring.
“SPRING – Seasonal Imagery” includes artists such as Janice Sheehan, Mae LaBlanc, Jim Sears, Joan Akerman, Jayant Chaudhary, Cathy Stewart, Cheryl Brennan, Cynthia Bonesky, Mary Ann McGrath, Cheryl Frehlich, Dodie Manifold, Patrick Larose, Phyllis Davenport, Judith Rackham, Susie Quinn and Karen Poirier.
The exhibit runs until June 18. Join us the gallery this Saturday, May 28 for refreshments and an opportunity to meet these talented artists.
Two-Day Watercolour Workshop at Rollin Art Centre — June 1 and 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — The Basics of Colour Theory & Pigments
Ionne McCauley is an accomplished artist, quilter, and author currently living in Qualicum Beach. In this workshop you will learn about value, hue, tone, shade, and saturation. Workshop fee is $150. Supply fee (to be paid to the instructor) is $20 and kit fee includes all paints used in class, paper to start and a grayscale. Register at Rollin Art Centre at 250-724-3412. Numbers are limited.
One-Day Acrylic Workshop at Rollin Art Centre — Saturday, July 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Landscapes Made Easy
Susan Schaefer will guide you through this, discussing what makes a good composition while simplifying your landscape. Schaefer has been a professional artist for the past 20 years and has taken workshops from some of Canada’s finest artists. Workshop fee is $115 +GST. A supply list is available. Register at Rollin Art Centre at 250-724-3412. Numbers are limited.
Teas on the Terrace are back at the Rollin Art Centre and tickets are now on sale.
Tickets are $20 for our strawberry teas and $25 for a High Tea, served on a two-tiered plate. Join us on the terrace, under the canopy of the trees, sipping tea, listening to local musicians and sampling a selection of snacks.
The first event will be a Strawberry Tea on July 7 featuring the Folk Song Circle.
Melissa Martin is the Arts Administrator for the Community Arts Council, at the Rollin Art Centre and writes for the Alberni Valley News. Call 250-724-3412. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
TRAMPS! looks at the art movement behind the The New Romantics – CBC.ca
Rising from the nihilistic ashes of the punk movement in the late 1970s, a fresh crowd of flamboyant fashionistas, who would later be christened the New Romantics, began to materialize on the streets of London, England.
My new feature film, TRAMPS! repositions the iconic 80s subculture as an art movement rather than solely a pop-cultural one.
This period in British history was particularly unique because kids could attend art or fashion school for free, and also lived in massive squatted houses with other fledgling artists. In a pre-AIDS era, this way of living provided a lifestyle with very little sense of consequence and resulted in a flourish of art being produced that straddled film, music, art and fashion causing waves around the world that resonate to this day.
Their radical, proto-drag confused the media, who couldn’t look away — like a cultural car crash, and soon enough they were brought into homes internationally with the rocket-like rise-to-fame of the likes of Boy George and his band Culture Club.
The idea for the film originates back to my trip to London, England with my first movie back in 2013. Admittedly, I came to the city with a well-developed obsession with UK music, arts and subculture going all the way back to my youth. I was struck by the proximity of these artists who were both central to my preexisting obsessions, and those who permeated the margins of the cultures I had come to love.
I knew straight away that I needed to spend time getting under its skin for my next movie, and it wasn’t until a series of coincidences revealed to me what that movie would be, that things started falling into place.
As my research plunged to its depths I realized that I wanted to shift the focus away from megastars and instead shine a light on people like painter Trojan, who had to this point been thrust into the shadows of his partner in crime, performance artist Leigh Bowery. These shadows were also cast by the onslaught of AIDS and rampant drug use, which effectively banished so much of the creative community to obscurity.
I crossed paths with incredible artists like fashion designers BodyMap, jewelry designer and stylist extraordinaire Judy Blame, choreographer Michael Clark and style icons Princess Julia and Scarlett Cannon. I was obsessed with their images, having permeated the pages of revolutionary cultural magazines like I-D and The Face, but seemed to flounder in terms of being celebrated as part of this movement which really was born out of a diversity of art practises, rather than strictly pop music aimed at straight people and dominant culture.
For me, TRAMPS! is a movie about youth culture, the central characters just happen to be more advanced in their years. Of course, night life in London still thrives, and although they seem to be slipping away to the annals of the digitization of gay culture, the East End alternative gay bars still teem with boundary pushing queer artists and festive freaks. DJ’s like Princess Julia and Jeffrey Hinton are still very much at the centre of it. They’ve been at it since the early 80s — Jeffrey Hinton was the resident DJ at Leigh Bowery’s nightclub Taboo, which was infamously debaucherous.
People like Julia and Jeffrey are a well of energy and I was eager to dip my bucket in! I wanted to bridge the gap between the archaic divide between so-called “kids these days” and the generations that predated them. I think the adage goes, if you’re not interested, you’re not interesting. The subjects in my film continue to engage with and produce art in whatever guise that may be — even just dressing up!
Making a documentary can be pretty depleting, especially when you spend years chasing pennies from granting bodies. For me that also extended into a sense of unworthiness — like the project I cared so deeply for didn’t have the worth I felt it had. It can also be costly in many other ways, such as a forced unsustainable lifestyle, especially when other filmmakers seem to sail through things like financing and distribution, where I felt I was destined to flounder.
That’s why when I would look at the subjects in TRAMPS! I began to see them not as just members of bygone subculture, but instead as a sort of mystical source of inspiration. To be an artist is to be a survivalist, resilience is at its centre, and so the narrative of the movie began to develop around those themes. Because I needed to hear it, I assumed others like me would also benefit from their secrets. What was the source of that resilience? How do they survive? How will I continue to make art and survive?
The New Romantics were essentially living what we are now seeing in what is sometimes referred to as the precariat generation; those whose income and employment are entirely insecure today. While working small jobs in friends shops, and a variety of other side gigs, trying to survive while making this movie — this fear-filled existence became central in my life and the narrative of the movie as well. Very dramatic I know, but these are undeniably dramatic times.
I hoped the answer, and inspiration to continue down this path existed somewhere in their story. This was the inspiration I needed to grow as a filmmaker and as a person, and so TRAMPS! was born.
I wanted to find some tenderness in a community that was so well-known for its aesthetic alone, and through this concept and cliché of the “artists struggle” I feel we really did find a lot of heart in that. It wasn’t until the movie was invited to play BFI Flare, and I stood on the stage at two sold out screenings that I realized that pursuit I so desperately needed to continue, truly did manifest in this documentary. I’m so excited to be able to share that with anyone and everyone who may continue to be in that position.
Ultimately, TRAMPS! is an allegorical gesture to artists of any generation trying to navigate how to produce work in an aggressively capitalist political economy. It happens to take place in London, but I hope it speaks to artists everywhere.
TRAMPS! screens in Toronto at the Inside Out 2SLGBTQ+ Film Festival on Tuesday, May 31. It is available to stream across Ontario from May 26 to June 5.
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