By 1930, roughly two years after he disengaged from the Surrealist group, Arp found himself more and more 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. In 1930 I went back to the activity which the Germans so eloquently call hewing" (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. The 1920s had been a richly prolific decade, one in which he absorbed the intellectual precepts of first Dada and later Surrealism and Constructivism. Yet it was during the following decade that he would articulate his mature expressive range and establish the prototypes to which he would persistently return. Finding a touchstone in the eternal process of nature, the sculpture of the second half of Arp's career plays infinite variations on this theme, instinctively recasting its elemental motifs--organic bodies, biological shapes--into integral new forms.
"Though his works are generally shown on a pedestal of some kind," Herbert Read has observed, "from 1930 onwards Arp was working toward a conception of sculpture as a free form with its own centre of gravity and often reversible" (in The Art of Jean Arp, New York, 1968, p. 92). The horizon of possibility for sculpture understood in this way, as a dynamic body shaped by an inner, organic tension, is superbly manifested by the unifying plastic outline of the present work.
While this bronze and the base were created as separate objects by the artist, the present owner ingeniously combined them together to create an organic interplay seen in many of Arp's later multi-media sculptures, as well as in the work of Henry Moore and Constantin Brancusi.