JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF RUTH MAYER
JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)

Grand personnage

JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
Grand personnage
signed with the artist's monogram, numbered '2/3' and inscribed with foundry mark 'Susse Fondeur Paris' (on the inside of the base)
polished bronze
Height: 65 5/8 in. (166.8 cm.)
Conceived in 1957; this version cast in July 1958
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York (no. 1717).
Robert and Beatrice Mayer, Chicago, by whom acquired from the above on 13 January 1961, and thence by descent to the present owner.
J. Thrall Soby, Arp, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1958, no. 112, p. 123 (another cast illustrated pl. 112; titled 'Great Lady').
Exh. cat., Jean Arp: sculpture, reliefs, paintings, collages, tapestries, Tate Gallery, London, 1962, no. 34.
Exh. cat., Exhibition of sculpture by Jean Arp in marble bronze and wood relief from the years 1923-63, Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, 1963, no. 16 (another cast illustrated).
G. Marchiori, Arp, Milan, 1964 (detail of another cast illustrated fig. 44, p. 60).
H. Read, Arp, London, 1968, no. 116, p. 207 (illustrated p. 206).
E. Trier, M. Arp-Hagenbach & F. Arp, Jean Arp, Sculpture: His Last Ten Years, New York, 1968, p. 107, no. 157 (another cast illustrated).
Exh. cat., Jean Arp, Museum of Contemporary Art, Madrid, 1985, no. 20, p. 112 (another cast illustrated).
Exh. cat., Hans Arp, Die Metamorphose der Figur, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 1991, no. 10, p. 169 (another cast illustrated p. 64).
B. Mayer, The Passionate Collector: Robert B. Mayer’s Adventures in Art, New York, 2011 (illustrated p. 61).
A. Hartog & K. Fischer, Hans Arp, Sculptures - a Critical Survey, Ostfildern, 2012, no. 157, p. 128 (another cast illustrated; with incorrect provenance).
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Further details
We thank the Fondation Arp, Clamart, for their help cataloguing this work.

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Ottavia Marchitelli
Ottavia Marchitelli Senior Specialist, Head of The Art of The Surreal Sale

Lot Essay

Conceived in 1957, Grand personnage is an elegant and striking example of Jean Arp’s mature work. For more than two decades, Arp had been refining and reimagining his sculptural idiom, giving image to ideas around growth and metamorphosis that derived from the world’s natural cycles. It was through explorations of the human form, however, that he was able to most fully express a language that was innate to his being: ‘The forms are born, amicable and strange, that order themselves without me,’ he noted. ‘I notice them – as sometimes one notices human figures in clouds’ (J. Arp quoted in C. Craft, ‘The Nature(s) of Arp’, in The Nature of Art, exh. cat. Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas 2019, p. 35).
Born in 1887, Arp began training as an artist in his native Strasbourg. In 1908, at the age of twenty-two, he enrolled at the celebrated Académie Julian in Paris but, bored and frustrated by the teaching methods, he abandoned his studies after only a few months. The following year he moved to Switzerland where, settling in Weggis, near Lucerne, he was taught to sculpt by Fritz Huf. After the outbreak of World War I, he travelled to Zurich and took up with a group of artists and intellectuals including Hugo Ball and Tristan Tzara. United in their outrage at the senseless war, they established Dada, an anarchic art movement that embraced chaos and revolution. During this period, Arp primarily created geometric and language-based collages and vivid wooden reliefs that looked to the natural world without imitating its forms; these works would later inform his sculptural practice.
Arp continued executing these reliefs even as, in the aftermath of the war, he aligned himself more closely to the Surrealists who saw in his oeuvre a subversion of rule and logic. This was not a new thread, however, as Arp had acknowledged the importance of chance to his creative process since 1917. This transformation aligned with his turn towards the two-dimensional, and it wasn’t until around 1930 that he returned to sculpture. The reasons for this change are unknown, though scholars have speculated that the death of his mother in 1929 combined with the discovery that many of his collages had deteriorated led Arp to seek out a more permanent means of representation. His work, however, remained deeply connected to Surrealism, with chance and fortune playing key roles in his approach: as the artist himself said, ‘I pursue this matter without knowing where I’m going. This is the mystery: my hands talk to themselves’ (J. Arp quoted in ibid., p. 34).
In resuming his sculptural practice, Arp found himself increasingly interested in expanding the biomorphic volumes of his earlier reliefs. Reflecting decades later, he said, ‘Suddenly my need for interpretation vanished, and the body, the form, the supremely perfected work became everything to me’ (J. Arp quoted in Arp, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1958, p. 14). Nature’s processes and forms became a touchstone, and the sculpture produced in the second half of Arp’s career often evoke both human and vegetal corollaries, as seen Grand personnage. The present work is at once reminiscent of an elongated human figure – capturing an sensuality that is distinctly female – and a willowy, curvilinear bough. Considering his oeuvre on the whole, Arp’s friend, the art historian Carola Giedion-Welcker, wrote that ‘boldly, Arp fashions his image of the world in fragmentary symbols, enabl[ing] man to speak through nature, and nature through man’ (C. Giedion-Welcker, ‘Arp: An Appreciation’, in Arp, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1958, p. 21).
Between developing Grand personnage in 1957, and casting the sculpture in 1961, Arp married his long-time friend and close collaborator Marguerite Hagenbach; she was the inspiration behind many of his late works. This was a period of great success for Arp, 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. As MoMA’s curator James Thrall Soby wrote on the eve of the opening of Arp’s retrospective, ‘Like all fine artists he is never completely predictable. But one thing even now may be foretold with certainty: that Arp's high and unique place in our century's art will remain indisputable’ (J. Thrall Soby, ‘Introduction: The Search for New Forms’, in Arp, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1958, p. 11).

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