The Nature of ARP


Jean (Hans) Arp Exhibition

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice | 13 April – 2 September, 2019

 “I was born in nature. I draw things that recline, drift, ripen, fall.” – Jean (Hans) Arp

This exhibition will investigate in depth the achievements of one of the most important and multifaceted artists of the modern era, Jean (Hans) Arp (1886-1966) founder of the Dada movement and pioneer of abstraction, whose experimental approach to creation, radical rethinking of traditional art forms, and collaborative proclivities resonate with the wide-ranging character of art today.

Here I share any pictures of my photos about exhibition. There were taken on 10 May 2019. Welcome to the nature art world of Arp.

About Jean (Hans) Arp

Artist Jean (Hans) Arp was born in 1886 in Strasbourg, the capital city of Alsace. This region was claimed alternately by Germany and France because of changing borders caused by World War I and World War II. Arp’s given name was Hans, but he later chose to go by the French equivalent, “Jean,” reflecting the shifting cultural and personal identity he experienced in his lifetime.

Details of exhibition

Over a career spanning more than six decades, Jean (Hans) Arp produced a remarkably influential body of work in a rich variety of materials and formats. A founder of the iconoclastic Dada movement, he developed a vocabulary of curving, organic shapes that move fluidly between abstraction and representation and became a common point of reference for several generations of artists.

Wall of exhibition with graphics of Arp

Many of Arp’s reliefs and two-dimensional drawings include objects and symbols that he used over and over, often combining them into new forms as one might combine two nouns into a compound word. These works combined body fragments such as torsos, noses, and navels as well as things objects like mustaches, shirtfronts, monocles, watches and hammers.

Shirtfront and fork (Plastron et fourchette) ca. 1922

Painted wood 58 x 70 x 5.9 cm – National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Overturned Blue Shoe with Two Heels Under a Black Vault
(Soulier bleu renversé à deux talons, sous une voûte noire) ca. 1925
Painted wood 79.3 x 104.6 x 5 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

Details of Exhibition

Arp was a pioneer in making abstract artwork. He was a founder of the Dada movement and later explored Surrealism and other art movements of the early 20th century. Creating sculptures, reliefs, collages, drawings, textiles, and writings throughout his lifetime (d. 1966), Arp challenged art traditions and introduced chance, humor, and collaboration in his artistic process. Arp influenced fellow artists as well as the generations of artists that followed. Among them are Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Barbara Hepworth, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Claes Oldenburg and Alexander Calder etc.

Wall with artworks from 1930’s

Details of Exhibition

Human Concretion (Concrezione umana) 1934

Marble – Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia

After witnessing what he called “the ugliness of man” during the war, Arp turned to nature for inspiration. The result was a body of work that featured organic shapes and fluid forms. Human and animal parts like torsos and navels, plant buds, branches and pistils were common components of Arp’s work that lent themselves to a range of interpretations. A form called a torso in one work might be called a bottle, vase or mandolin in others.

Lunar Fruit 1936 (1/1; cast 1958)
Duralumin 106 x 145 x 114 cm
Fondazione Marguerite Arp, Locarno

Arp wanted to capture the “immediate and direct production” he observed in nature’s repeated and varied cycles—buds growing on a tree, leaves falling on the ground, a stone breaking away from a cliff—so he often followed nature’s operations of growth, decay and gravity in his work.

Arp stacked layers of wood, cut by carpenters, joined them with screws and painted them with defined areas of color. He often took them apart and reconfigured them. Hung in orientations high and low to expose their thickness and grain, the subjects of the works were hybrids of things that gave them an absurd twist of humor, much like his poetry.

Arp started making plaster sculptures in the 1930s. Often making multiple casts, he would slice them apart for new works, stacking fragments together, conjoining them with fresh plaster, then filing, sanding and painting them to become an entirely new sculpture. In the remaking of the sculpture Ptolemy I, Arp used a saw to slice the work to create Daphne, a woman in Greek mythology who turned into a tree to escape the god Apollo.

LEFT: Ptolemy I 1953 Plaster 102.9 x 52.7 x 43.2 cm – Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, University of California, Los Angeles
RIGHT: Daphne 1955 Plaster 122.4 x 39 x 30 cm – Stiftung Arp e.V., Berlin / Rolandswerth


Growth 1938

Marble – Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Arp’s sculptures, begun in the early 1930s, often have no use for a pedestal, can be turned in different orientations, and seem to pulse with incipient life. In later years, he put his sculptures through complex processes of fragmentation, casting, recasting, and enlarging. Almost alone among artists of his generation, Arp worked at the forefront of abstraction as well as the Dada and Surrealist movements.  The Nature of Arp will present a compelling new look at an artist whose experimental approach to creation, radical rethinking of traditional art forms, and collaborative proclivities resonate with the wide-ranging character of art today.

In a 1920 text, Arp declared that he wanted “immediate and direct production, like a stone breaking away from a cliff, a bud bursting, an animal reproducing.”  The Nature of Arp will explore how Arp achieved this ambition through creative strategies analogous to the operations of nature, including his engagement with “the laws of chance,” his definition of art as “a fruit growing out of man,” and a crucial, often overlooked, aspect of his creative process—the role of fragmentation, evoked by the artist’s image of a stone breaking away from a cliff: throughout Arp’s career, he created art by cutting, tearing, and sawing apart paper, wood, and plaster.

Detail of exhibition

The exhibition brings to Palazzo Venier dei Leoni more than 70 works — sculptures in plaster, wood, bronze and marble, painted reliefs in wood, collages, drawings, tapestries and books — from European and American institutions and private collections.

Detail of exhibition

Amphora-Fruit (Fruit-amphore) 1946 (?) (cast 1951)
Bronze, 74.5 x 99 cm
At Garden | Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

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