JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
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JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
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JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)


JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
white marble
Height: 14 in. (35.7 cm.)
Length: 24 in. (60.8 cm.)
Executed in 1960; unique
Galerie Loeb, Paris.
Nathan Cummings, Chicago (acquired from the above, October 1961).
Acquired from the estate of the above by the present owner, May 1985.
E. Trier, intro., Jean Arp, Sculpture: His Last Ten Years, New York, 1968, p. 115, no. 231a (illustrated, p. 114).
I. Jianou, Jean Arp, Paris, 1973, p. 78, no. 231a.
A. Hartog and K. Fischer, eds., Hans Arp: Sculptures, A Critical Survey, Ostfildern, 2012, p. 341, no. 231a (illustrated).
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art and New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Selections from the Nathan Cummings Collection, June 1970-September 1971, p. 86, no. 70 (illustrated).
The Art Institute of Chicago, Major Works from the Collection of Nathan Cummings, October-December 1973, p. 80, no. 71 (illustrated).
Charleston, South Carolina, Gibbes Art Gallery, 10th Anniversary Spoleto Exhibition, May-June 1986.
The Arts Club of Chicago, Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Exhibition, 1916-1991, May-June 1992, p. 62 (illustrated).

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Lot Essay

We thank the Fondation Arp, Clamart, for their help cataloguing this work.
After devoting himself principally to relief sculpture in his Dada and Surrealist years, Arp found himself by 1930 increasingly drawn to the expanded volumes of sculpture in the round. Transforming the flat, biomorphic shapes of his earlier reliefs into fully fledged, standing sculptural creations, Arp arrived at a language of burgeoning, organic forms that served as the wellspring of his art for the remaining three decades of his career.
Chapeau-Forêt’s smoothly rounded and undulating form is characteristic of Arp's sensual approach to the human body, which he explored through a language of organic abstraction. The artist found endless inspiration in the natural world as well as his own body of existing work, continuously revisiting and inventing on these biomorphic shapes to create new, vital configurations with both human and vegetal affinities. As a critic of his early sculptures in the round remarked, “with Arp, a new aspect of sculpture is born” (quoted in Arp, exh. cat., Stuttgart, 1986, p. 148).
The process of metamorphosis is a key element in Arp's sculpture. By merging human and natural elements, Arp created mysterious and ambiguous sculptures that transcend the nomenclature of the natural world. "Often some detail in one of my sculptures, a curve or a contrast that moves me, becomes the germ of a new work," he wrote, in effect explaining his working process as it may apply to the present sculpture, tracing the development of the bud form to the gnome's hat, and then finally to the lily and the elephant's tusk. "I accentuate the curve or the contrast and this leads to the birth of new forms. Among these, perhaps two of them will grow more quickly and more strongly than the others. I let these continue to grow until the original forms have become secondary and almost irrelevant... Sometimes it will take months, even years to work out a new sculpture... Each of these bodies has a definite significance, but it is only when I feel there is nothing more to change that I decide what it is, and it is only then that I give it a name" (quoted in H. Read, Arp, London, 1968, p. 87). This gradual creative process—in which Arp reworked and invented on natural forms– echoes the evolutionary process of nature itself, and led to the genesis of visual metaphors that illuminated the surrounding world in unforeseen ways.
Recounting a conversation that he once had with Piet Mondrian, in which the latter established art and nature as opposing principles, Arp defended his belief that art and nature are inextricable linked. In his oeuvre, Arp "gradually turned from his early burlesque interpretations of life to the fusion of natural and human substance into a new sculptural unity. He produced anonymous forms, symbols of life, in which the tragic rifts, dividing the human, the natural, and the artificial were bridged" (C. Giedion-Welcker, Jean Arp, London, 1957, p. xxvii).

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