Yves Klein's coffee table is possibly the most mis-understood functional edition by a major Modern artist. The two questions we're asked the most by potential collectors are, "What is the edition size?" and "Is this a vintage table"? As the official partner of the Yves Klein Archive and industry expert on this edition, we'd like to set the record straight, once and (hopefully) for all.
The confusion around the table's history is mostly due to the auction houses who consistently mis-describe the dates and edition information whenever a table comes up for auction. The details should always be the same: the tables are all from an edition begun in 1961 when the artist was alive, and was later formalized in 1963 by his estate, a year after his passing.
All the tables available, whether old or new, are from this edition and NONE are vintage. The only vintage tables are the prototypes the artist made and these belong to his estate.
And, no, it's not a limited edition. And, no, each table isn't numbered.
Here's something most people don't know - Yves Klein's tables are a controlled edition which means that the estate limits the number of tables produced each year to protect the market. How many are made each year? The number isn't released by the estate, but less than one hundred in recent years and that's inclusive of all three variations (blue, gold and pink).
Production of the table didn't really start to ramp up until the 90s when only a handful of tables were made annually. Each table has a placard of authenticity affixed to the underside that shows a unique inventory number given by the estate. Newer tables are no more valuable than older tables, except they're likely in better condition.
What's great about all this misunderstanding about the tables is that it's lead to market confusion and staggering auction results that are sometimes triple or quadruple the table's primary market cost. This helps safeguard the table's secondary market, so unlike a regular coffee table that loses its value once it leaves the showroom, the Yves Klein coffee table grows in value. When you acquire this table you're investing in an artwork with a proven market.
And never has Yves Klein's market been stronger. Over the last decade, an intense interest from a younger generation of collectors and important recognition by major museums has firmly established his legacy. Once considered an "artist's artist," Klein is now widely understood to be one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.
And did you know that Klein's career lasted just 7 years before he died at the young age of 34?
And did you know that the coffee table is the only ongoing edition approved by the Yves Klein Archive in Paris?
And that's the truth behind the icon.
Want to learn more? Check out the Yves Klein Collection Page.
Written by Rebecca Kong, Co-founder of Artware Editions