Arp once recounted a conversation he had with Piet Mondrian, in which the latter, drawing upon the symbolist heritage of the late nineteeth century, established art and nature as opposing principles. Arp voiced his disagreement. He viewed art as a process that unites man and nature. In his work Arp "gradually turned from his early burlesque interpretations of life to the fusion of natural and human substance into a new sculptural unity. He produced anonymous forms, symbols of life, in which the tragic rifts, dividing the human, the natural, and the artificial were bridged" (C. Giedion-Welcker, Jean Arp, London, 1957, p. xxvii).
Arp's association with the Surrealist movement in the 1920s reinforced the sculptor's organic approach to abstract form, at a time when the volumetric concerns and architectural discipline of cubism was the prevailing force in modern sculpture. In 1952 Arp wrote: "I draw things that recline, drift, rise, ripen, fall. I model fruits that lie still, clouds that drift on and up, stars that grow ripe and drop, symbols of the eternal transformation into infinite peace. They are memories of vegetative, biological shapes, colors that fade, harmonies that die out. Genesis, birth, blossoming often occur in a dreamlike state to open eyes, and it is only afterward that the rational meaning is revealed" (the artist, in "The Inner Language", ed. M. Jean, Arp: Collected French Writings, London, 1974, p. 292).
The process of evolution is a key element in Arp's sculpture. He sought to achieve a transformation where human and natural elements converge, reflecting a universal morphology. The artist wrote: "Often some detail in one of my sculptures, a curve or a contrast that moves me, becomes the germ of a new work. 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).
Arp's subjects are most often the human figure, primarily the torso, and vegetal forms. In many works he merges these ideas, and a characteristic theme in his work is that of metamorphosis, where his forms are in the process of transformation and generation. The title of the present work Nid Enchanteur or Enchanting Nest embodies this idea of generative association.