Born in Nice in 1928, Arman is one of the foremost and prolific artists of the Post-War period. As early as the 1950s, Arman established himself as an exciting iconoclast, constantly pushing back the boundaries of art in sculptures, actions and paintings. His zeal for revolution continues in the art that he produces to this day.
Alongside his great friend Yves Klein, Arman was one of the founders of the Nouveau Réalisme movement. The artists of this movement sought, each in their own way, to challenge the Action Painting and Abstract Expressionism that had come to dominate the art world. Where Klein focused on emptiness and transcendence in his art, Arman focused on the world around him, incorporating objects into his art. He has famously created boxes filled with accumulated waste, or with gasmasks, as well as a monument in Beirut made of tanks. Amongst his most famous works are his smashed string instruments placed in vitrines.
These string instruments, which became iconic features in Arman's art, are reprised in Les Violons de Golconde. Here, Arman's fascination with the material world and materialism is taken to an exciting level as he 'draws', in a rare act of representation, the instruments with diamonds. This interest in the gems is reflected in the title: Golconda was an ancient Indian city whose fame continues today due to its almost mythical wealth as a source of diamonds. Yet the title also reflects Arman's interest in Surrealism, and especially René Magritte's iconic 1953 masterpiece, Golconde, which showed bowler-hatted businessmen falling from the skies.