At age 20, Yves Klein conceived of an experimental composition with two friends in the South of France consisting of one sound, produced by a full orchestra and singers performing in unison. After 20 minutes it would abruptly stop, but that was just the middle of the piece. The audience would sit for 20 more minutes in contemplation, listening to the silence produced by the stillness of the performers.
Klein described his “Monotone-Silence Symphony” as “one continuous sound, drawn out and deprived of its beginning and its end, creating a feeling of vertigo and of aspiration outside of time.” Sadly it would never be fully realized during Klein’s lifetime. The artist would perform it just once, in 1960, in the grand salon of Maurice d’Arquian’s Galerie Internationale d’Art Contemporain in Paris, with a small orchestra and chorus. He died in 1963 at age 34 of a heart attack.
Dominique Lévy and Brett Gorvy are marking their official debut as Lévy Gorvy, in collaboration with the Yves Klein Archives, with a performance of Klein’s “Monotone-Silence Symphony,” conducted by Petr Kotik, at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco on January 12, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. The historic landmark, located on Nob Hill, is no stranger to art; mosaics by Jan Henryk De Rozen cover its walls, and Keith Haring created an altarpiece for its Interfaith AIDS Memorial Chapel. The performance will be free to the public, and reservations for the symphony will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
“We are honored to present this work for the first time in San Francisco, where there is a real commitment to legacy of Yves Klein, thanks to the influence of Phyllis Wattis, the prominent arts patron; Mary Zlot, in her work with collectors; and Gary Garrels and Neal Benezra at SFMOMA, the first of the American museums to substantially preserve the artist’s work,” said Lévy via email. “It will be thrilling to experience this transcendent, moving work in such a majestic and iconic setting.”
Lévy Gorvy will also participate in FOG Design+Art from January 12 to 15, 2017. Expect to see Klein represented in the booth, as well as works by other artists in the gallery’s program. “It’s an exciting time for Lévy Gorvy to be in San Francisco and engage with the community, where there is longstanding interest in art and music,” said Lévy.
The San Francisco performance of the “Monotone-Silence Symphony” will be the third in the United States and the first on the West Coast. Lévy christened her New York space with a staging of the symphony at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in September 2013 to coincide with her New York gallery’s inaugural exhibition, “Audible Presence: Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Cy Twombly,” and last September Kotik conducted the symphony at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
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