Jean (Hans) Arp (1886-1966)
Property from the Pincus Collection
Jean (Hans) Arp (1886-1966)

Torse, profil

Jean (Hans) Arp (1886-1966)
Torse, profil
with raised initials and numbered 'HA V/V' (on the underside)
polished bronze
Height: 22 in. (55.8 cm.)
Conceived in 1959; this bronze version cast in 1960
Pierre Loeb, Paris.
Albert Loeb Gallery, New York.
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, October 1960.
E. Trier, Jean Arp Sculpture, His Last Ten Years, New York, 1968, p. 109, no. 185a (another cast illustrated, p. 108).
A. Hartog, ed., Hans Arp, Skulpturen, Eine Bestandsaufnahme, Ostfildern, 2012, p. 139, no. 185a (another cast illustrated).
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Collects 20th Century, October-November 1963, p. 7.

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David Kleiweg de Zwaan
David Kleiweg de Zwaan

Lot Essay

Having previously created reliefs and other primarily frontal compositions of biomorphic forms, it was in Arp's artistic exploration of the human body that he was able to give full expression to the analogy of human and vegetal forms that was the inspiration for much of his subsequent oeuvre. Recalling the creative epiphany that led to these important works, Arp commented:

"For many years, roughly from the end of 1919 to 1931, I interpreted most of my works. Often the interpretation was more important for me than the work itself. Suddenly my need for interpretation vanished, and the body, the form, the supremely perfected work became everything to me. In 1930 I went back to the activity which the Germans so eloquently call Hauerei (hewing). I engaged in sculpture and modeled in plaster. The first products were two torsos" (quoted in M. Andreotti, The Early Sculpture of Jean Arp, London, 1989, p. 176).

The arched back and open, active stance of the present figure convey a powerful sense of movement. The dance-like quality of the pose is further emphasized by the body's relationship to its base, which it gracefully touches at an asymmetrical angle. Depending on the viewpoint, the torso appears to be stretching or even leaping into the air; its smoothly rounded biomorphic forms seem to push outwards, reflecting Arp's fascination with representing biological growth and transformation. Although identified as a human torso, the figurine also marks a convergence of human and natural elements, a metamorphosis or even evolution of one living entity into something new. Although reminiscent of the curve of a hip, breast, stomach or buttocks, these budding forms are analogous to human features in a vaguely generalized way; when first approaching the sculpture it may be difficult to ascertain the front from the back. Arp appears to have intended certain features to resemble others, creating a playfully ambiguous effect; nonetheless, the undulating abstracted forms express a sensuality that is distinctly female. Margherita Andreotti has addressed the importance of the female form for Arp's sculptural experimentation, stating:

"Despite their high degree of simplification, most of Arp's recurring torsos have recognizably feminine connotations. This indicates, on the one hand, their descent from the many female nudes Arp had drawn well before his discovery around 1916 of biomorphic forms, and, on the other, it suggests that Arp adhered to the traditional notion that sensual beauty is best expressed by the female body, whose curvaceous forms must have seemed particularly well suited to Arp's curvilinear vocabulary. In his preference for the feminine form, Arp may also have been reflecting the age-old symbolism equating woman with nature, which was implicit in his well-known statement, 'Art is a fruit that grows in man like a fruit on a plant or a child in its mother's womb'" (ibid., p. 181).

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