Andy Warhol and Yves Klein, Skarstedt Chelsea Gallery, New York

To add to its two existing locations, Skarstedt opened a new gallery space on the 8 May. Situated in the heart of Chelsea in New York, this gallery joins another on New York’s Upper East Side and one in London, UK. Designed by Selldorf Architects, the Skarstedt Chelsea occupies an entire freestanding building and allows Skarstedt to expand on its core programme of exhibitions from modern and contemporary masters.

In celebration of the new space, the inaugural exhibition at the Chelsea gallery presents the pairing of Oxidation Paintings by Andy Warhol with Fire Paintings by Yves Klein. These two works have never been exhibited together before but both are major bodies of work that proved fundamental to the history of abstraction.

In the spring of 1961, access to a destructive testing laboratory in France led Klein to one of his most innovative and, quite literally, explosive, bodies of work, the Fire Paintings. Using a blowtorch to burn abstracted forms onto paper, Klein’s technique bears a striking similarity to the photographic heliograph, using flame rather than light to create shapes and forms.

A decade later, Warhol undertook his own scientific experiments, choosing urine and metallic paints as the catalyst for the Oxidation Paintings (1977-78). He created brilliant, lavishly textured surfaces of green and gold whilst satirising the physical act of painting so privileged by his forefathers, the Abstract Expressionists. This series marks an important departure for Warhol, as his first movement into abstraction.

It’s a key historical exhibition that demonstrates Skarstedt’s ongoing commitment to collaboration with artists and their estates and mirrors the opening exhibition of the London space at 23 Bond Street in 2012, Andy Warhol: The American Indian. They also work with the following artists or estates: Robert Mapplethorpe, Franz West, Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer and Carroll Dunham.

Andy Warhol and Yves Klein, until 21 June, Skarstedt Chelsea Gallery, 550 West 21st Street, New York, USA. For more information visit

1. Andy Warhol. Oxidation Painting (Diptych). 1978. urine and metallic pigment in acrylic medium on canvas; in two parts. 40 x 30 inches each; 40 x 60 inches. Courtesy of Skarstedt Chelsea Gallery.

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