JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SWISS COLLECTION
JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)

Figure sans nom

Details
JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
Figure sans nom
inscribed with the artist's monogram, numbered and with the foundary mark 'HA 5⁄5 Susse Fond. Paris' (on the inside of the base)
polished bronze
Height: 48.1 cm. (19 in.)
Conceived in 1957 and cast in 1961 in a numbered edition of five
Provenance
Galerie Denise René, Paris (acquired directly from the artist)
Private Collection, acquired from the above on 24 April 1964, and thence by descent; Christie's London, 8 Feb 2012, Lot 446.
Private collection, by whom acquired at the above sale

We thank the Fondation Arp, Clamart, for their help cataloguing this work
Literature
C. Giedion-Welcker, Hans Arp, Suttgart, 1957, no. 147.

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Lot Essay

Arp’s lustrous polished bronze of Figure sans nom is elegantly embodied through organic, rounded, curves that culminate in a golden statuette of an unknown deity. This intriguing entity, a figure without name as the title suggests, takes the form of an object of worship or meditation, ambiguous yet eternal in its essence, alive in its upright stature. The intentional namelessness of Arp’s creation generates an enhanced enigma, engendering an alluring anonymity and authority to the form. For the unfolding and evolving process of nature, as with art, is in essence inexplicable and infinite, such as that Figure sans nom retains a powerful sense of magic in its mystery.

After devoting himself principally to relief sculpture throughout his Dada and Surrealist years, by 1930, Arp found himself increasingly preoccupied by the expanded volumes of sculpture in the round. Years later he recalled, “Suddenly my need for interpretation vanished, and the body, the form, the supremely perfected work became everything to me” (quoted in Arp, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1958, p. 14). It was from this point forward that he learned to transform the biomorphic shapes of his earlier reliefs into full-fledged sculptural forms. Finding a touchstone in the eternal process of nature, the sculpture of the second half of Arp’s career includes infinite variations on this theme, instinctively recasting its elemental motifs into integral new forms that suggest both human and vegetal affinities, as can be seen in Figure sans nom.

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