Yves Klein | Sponge Sculpture | 1959
Sponge in blue plaster, Width: 800 cm, Height: 900 cm.
Image Courtesy of Yves Klein Archives
© Succession Yves Klein c/o Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris 2021
This sponge sculpture was initially used to coat female models in International Klein Blue (IKB), deep cobalt paint that artist Yves Klein patented for its shockingly powdery and bright appearance upon drying. The blue-covered women then acted as "living paintbrushes", pressing their bodies to canvases with the artist's direction and acting as "anthropometries", or body measurements. Klein mounted the used sponges on wire and sold them, along with the canvases, as art. Emily Hall Tremaine owned a smaller sponge of Klein's (SE 169) but personally asked Klein for a larger one (SE 168, seen above) when the first didn't fit with her display. He complied, knowing that as a relatively unknown and very avant-garde artist, he would benefit from the many dealers and curators who often visited the Tremaines' home.