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  • Jean (Hans) Arp

    Arp’s sensuous and enigmatic sculptures are elegantly abstract yet also retain vestiges of figures and natural forms. Silencieux [Silent], 1942, which bows inward, was made during World War II,  when Arp and his first wife, Sophie Tauber, had fled their home near Paris for Grasse, taking refuge with artists Sonia Delaunay and Alberto and Susi Magnelli. Configuration Angoissante [Anguished Configuration], 1957, is atypically convoluted: it was made just after Arp had broken his leg. His second wife Marquerite wrote that, as he explained the piece to her, “You see, it’s like I feel when I must try to walk with my crutches.”

    Arp’s career as an artist has amazing breadth. Born in Strassbourg (then part of German Alsace-Lorraine), he began writing romantic poetry as a teenager. He studied art in Strassbourg, then at the famed Weimar Art School and the Académie Julian, Paris. He exhibited with the Blaue Reiter group in Munich in 1912 and was one of the founders of the Dada movement in Zurich from 1916-19, participating in the infamous anarchy at the Cabaret Voltaire. He became involved with the Surrealists in Paris in the 1920s and contributed poems and illustrations to many Surrealist publications. Arp later belonged to the Abstraction-Création group in the 1930s (as did Barbara Hepworth), at which time he began making three-dimensional sculptures. He always believed in chance mechanisms for generating his imagery, although his biomorphic sculptures are never too far removed from the human torso or organic forms.
    (active France, 1887 – 1966)