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

Torse fruit

JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
Torse fruit
inscribed with foundry mark '.Georges Rudier. Fondeur. Paris.' (on the rim of the underside)
polished bronze
Height: 29 1/2 in. (74.9 cm.)
Conceived in 1960; this bronze version cast in 1968
Marguerite Arp, Clamart (wife of the artist).
Dominion Gallery, Montreal (acquired from the above, June 1968).
Peter Bronfman, Montreal (acquired from the above, October 1968).
Waddington Galleries, Inc., Montreal (acquired from the above).
Acquired from the above by the late owner, May 1978.
E. Trier, Jean Arp Sculpture: His Last Ten Years, New York, 1968, p. 115, no. 237 (marble version illustrated, p. 114).
H. Read, The Art of Jean Arp, New York, 1968, p. 207 (marble version illustrated, pl. 128).
I. Jianou, Jean Arp, Paris, 1973, p. 78, no. 237.
A. Hartog and K. Fischer, eds., Hans Arp: Sculptures, A Critical Survey, Ostfildern, 2012, p. 344, no. 237 (marble version illustrated).
Further details
We thank the Fondation Arp, Clamart, for their help cataloguing this work.

Lot Essay

“Art is a fruit that grows in man like a fruit on a plant, or a child in its mother’s womb.”
— Jean (Hans) Arp

Conceived in 1960, Torse fruit is an elegant example of the captivating, lyrical beauty of Jean Arp’s mature sculptural language. Since the 1930s, Arp had been developing and refining his sculptural technique, which resulted in a coalescence of burgeoning organic forms inspired by the central concepts of growth, transience, evolution and metamorphosis, which rule the cycle of life on earth. It was in his artistic exploration of the human body that Arp was able to give expression to this language to the fullest. Identified as both a human torso and a fruit, the present work evokes the convergence of human and natural elements, the metamorphosis or evolution of a living entity into something new.
Although reminiscent of the roundness of a head, the protrusion of a breast, the concavity of a waist line or the curve of a hip, these organic budding forms are only analogous to human features in a vaguely generalized way. Nonetheless, these undulating abstracted forms express a sensuality that is distinctly female. As Margherita Andreotti has written: "Despite their high degree of simplification, most of Arp's recurring torsos have recognizably feminine connotations. This […] 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 […]" (M. Andreotti, The Early Sculpture of Jean Arp, London, 1989, p. 181). This symbolism is fully expressed in the present work, which embodies the sensual, fruitful essence of the eternal feminine. Yet, although this work aims to represent a female torso, an age-old pursuit in sculpture, Arp remains decidedly modern here. Indeed, albeit still suggesting a torso, the work possesses an entirely new language of form: the fluidity of Arp’s biomorphisms suggests esoteric amoeboid shapes and expresses the confluence of abstraction and the artist's quest for the representation of the human figure.
Another novel aspect of Arp’s work was his sculptural process, which he described as an act of discovery rather than creation: “This is the mystery: my hands talk to themselves. The dialogue is established between the plaster and them as if I am absent, as if I am not necessary. There forms are born, amicable and strange, that order themselves without me. I notice them–as sometimes one notices human figures in clouds” (quoted in C. Craft, The Nature of Arp, exh. cat., Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, 2018, p. 35). Although Arp was fascinated by the complex relationship between man, nature and the material world, he remained adamant that this style evoked natural forms without imitation. “We do not want to copy nature. We do not want to reproduce, we want to produce […]. We want to produce like a plant that produces a fruit […]” (quoted in Jean Arp: from the collections of Mme. Marguerite Arp and Arthur and Madeleine Lejwa, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1972, n.p.).
When this work was executed in 1960, Arp had recently married his longtime friend and collaborator Marguerite Hagenbach who had become his muse and an inspiration for his later works. The present work was conceived during a time of great success for the artist, following his award of the Grand Prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1954 and his important 1958 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The present cast of Torse fruit was purchased from Waddington Galleries in the 1970s by a Canadian collector and has been kept in the same family ever since. A cast of the present sculpture can be found at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

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