Formerly in the collection of Georg and Josi Guggenheim, Zurich, and sold on behalf of them at Christie's in 2005 to benefit the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and the Kunstmuseum, Basel, Flocons aux rayons jaunes, is an exquisite wood relief constructed by arp in 1946. Consisting purely of simple forms derived, but not copied, from nature, the relief conjured a magical world of natural growth held together through the unforced harmony of its composition. Highlighted with yellow painted sides, Arp's snow-flake forms are defined by the radiance of this near fluorescent colour and by the shadows their volume casts on the plain white background of the work. Arp's aesthetic aim was what he once described as a 'Construction in terms of lines, planes, shapes and colour [that] despising artifice, presumption, imitation and the carnival tricks of the trade... aspire to the spiritual, to a mystical reality' (quoted in Arp, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1958, p. 26.)
Discussing the way in which he allowed the unconscious laws of chance to determine the form and outcome of his work, Arp explained: 'I allow myself to be guided by the work at the time of its birth, I have confidence in it. I don't reflect. The forms come, pleasing or strange, hostile, inexplicable, dumb or drowsy. They are born of themselves. It seems to me that I only have to move my hands. These lights, these shadows, that "chance" sends us, should be welcomed by us with astonishment and gratitude. The "chance", for example, that guides our fingers...[and]...the forms that then take shape, give us access to mysteries, reveal to us the profound sources of life...Very often, the colour which one selects blindly becomes the vibrant heart of the picture...It is sufficient to close one's eyes for the inner rhythm to pass into the hands with more purity. This transfer, this flux is still easier to control, to guide in a dark room. A great artist of the Stone Age knew how to conduct the thousands of voices that sang in him; he drew with his eyes turned inward' (quoted in Jours effeuills. Poemes, essais, souvenirs, 1920-1965, Zurich, 1963, pp. 435-6).