HARRY SHUNK (1924–2006)/JÁNOS KENDER (1937–2009) Le Saut de le Vide [Leap into the Void], Paris, artistic action by Yves Klein (1928-1962). Silver print, the image measuring 46 3/4x40 3/4 inches (118.7x103.5 cm.), flush mounted (later). October 23, 1960; printed circa 1990
Provenance: Acquired directly from Harry Shunk by the Photographer Steve Berger, a neighbor at Westbeth Artist Housing, circa 2004-05
The French New Realist artist Yves Klein asked Harry Shunk and János Kender to collaborate with him on Le Saut de la Vide, a conception in which Klein appears to sail, arms outstretched, from a second story window. Shunk-Kender had a reputation for photographing artists, and were known for their technical skill. To create this image, the photographers made images of a nearly empty street in the Parisian suburb Fontenay-aux-Roses. Klein then made a series of jumps from the roof, landing in a tarp held by friends on the street below. Once the images were developed, Shunk and Kender blended the two negatives together, apparently seamlessly fused.
Klein published the image on the front page of a faux newspaper entitled Dimanche—Le journal d'un seul jour, styled after the actual newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche. The picture appeared under the headline "Un Homme Dans L'Espace! [A Man in Space]" and was captioned "Le peintre de l'espace se jette dans le vide! [The painter of space throws himself into the void]." Klein distributed his paper to newsstands throughout Paris during the Festival d'Art d'Avant-Garde.
Shunk and Kender worked together from 1958-73, photographing artists, performances, artwork, and more, forming an immense record of avant-garde artistic life during this period. Their work was primarily printed for reproduction, and is now comparatively rare to the market.