By 1930, some two years after he disengaged from the Surrealist camp, 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" (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. Finding a touchstone in the eternal process of nature, the sculpture of the second half of Arp's career includes infinite variations on this theme, instinctively recasting its elemental motifs—organic bodies, biological shapes—into integral new forms.
"The content of a sculpture," wrote Arp in 1955, "has to come forward on tiptoe, unpretentious and as light as the spoor of an animal in the snow. Art has to melt into nature. It should even be confused with nature. But this should be attained not by imitation but by the opposite of naturalistic copying on canvas or stone. Art will thus rid itself more and more of selfishness, virtuosity, and foolishness" (Collected French Writings, London, 1972, p. 341).
Conceived in 1959, Figure-germe dite l'après-midinette is a proudly organic form, with its soft, wavering silhouette suggestive of transformation and growth. Its smoothly rounded and sensually undulating form is characteristic of Arp's approach to the human body, which he primarily explored through a language of organic abstraction. "With Arp, a new aspect of sculpture is born," remarked a critic of his earliest sculptures in the round that were conceived in the 1930s (J. Brzekowski, "Les Quatres Noms," Cahiers d'Art, no. 9, 1934, p. 197, quoted in Arp, 1886-1966, exh. cat., Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, 1986, p. 148). Arp arrived at the forms in his sculptures in a gradual manner, taking his inspiration from the shapes suggested to him by the natural world, as well as from his own body of existing work.