Jean (Hans) Arp (1895-1965)
Jean (Hans) Arp (1895-1965)
Jean (Hans) Arp (1895-1965)
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Jean (Hans) Arp (1895-1965)
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JEAN (HANS) ARP (1895-1965)

Gueule de fleur

JEAN (HANS) ARP (1895-1965)
Gueule de fleur
white marble
Height: 20 in. (50.8 cm.)
Executed in 1960; unique
Galerie du Perron, Geneva.
James Wise, Tourettes.
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York; sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, Inc., New York, 17 May 1979, lot 319.
Anon. (acquired at the above sale); sale, Sotheby's, New York, 12 May 1987, lot 343.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owners.
G. Marchiori, Arp, Milan, 1964, p. 155, no. 139 (illustrated, p. 154).
E. Trier, intro., Jean Arp Sculpture: His Last Ten Years, New York, 1968, p. 111, no. 207 (bronze version illustrated, p. 110).
I. Jianou, Jean Arp, Paris, 1973, p. 77.
A. Hartog and K. Fischer, eds., Hans Arp: Sculptures, A Critical Survey, Ostfildern, 2012, pp. 150-151, no. 207 (bronze version illustrated, p. 150).
Geneva, Galerie du Perron, Hommage à Jean-Hans Arp, June-September 1962, no. 14 (illustrated).
Further details
We thank the Fondation Arp, Clamart, for their help cataloguing this work.

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Lot Essay

Gueule de fleur, with its smoothly rounded surface, is characteristic of Arp's sensual approach to form, 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 reinventing these biomorphic shapes to create new, vital configurations with both human and vegetal affinities. 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. "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.
While Arp admired the sculptural principles of Constantin Brancusi, and in particular his promotion of direct carving, his own working process saw him produce three-dimensional sculptures in plaster before the forms were translated into stone or bronze. Having first learned the technique from the Swiss artist Fritz Huf before the outbreak of the First World War, he returned to this form of modelling in his experiments of the 1930s because it allowed for greater versatility. Typically beginning a piece by building up shapes with wet plaster, then carving and smoothing the forms after it had dried, Arp’s method was one of continual adjustment, allowing for large alterations of form as well as more subtle changes along the way, as he sought to create artworks that appeared to have been created by natural forces rather than his own hand.

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