Monday, March 25, 2013

Jean (Hans) Arp

Human Concretion (1935)
Jean (Hans) Arp was a French sculptor, painter, printmaker and poet of German birth. He was a pioneer of abstract art and one of the founders of Dada in Zurich, as well as participating in Expressionism, Surrealism and Constructivism alike. In the 1930's Arp began experimenting with sculpture by creating figurative torsos with wood and plaster. Next, Arp began on a series of smooth biomorphic forms called Human Concretions. Each concretion shared common themes of growth, metamorphosis and crystallization as opposed to specific themes drawn from nature. Human Concretion (1935) shares the bulbous character and curved and coiled shape of many of the other concretions, giving off a sort of spontaneous energy as if it had just sprouted into being. It's form is reminiscent of the human female with its sensual, rounded contours. Despite their solid, almost earthy appearance, each of Arp's concretions seems virtually weightless, as if it were just floating in space. Arp preferred his sculptures to not be mounted on a base so that they could 'simply take their place in nature.' Many of them were conceived without a predetermined orientation and were often positioned in any and every direction. Critics deemed these concretions abstract art, a title Arp staunchly opposed. He often corrected critics saying that his works were "Concrete Art" because they occupied space, and that art was a natural generation of form. The term "concrete art" was coined by Theo van Doesburg in his Manifesto of Concrete Art (1930). Both Doesburg and Arp claimed that their aim was to not reproduce but to simply produce more directly. Arp once stated:
"Art is a fruit that grows in a man, like a fruit on a plant, or a child in its mother's womb"
In his concretions, Arp aimed to incorporate physical essence, with one part equated to the whole, concentrating form so as to increase the sculptures domination of space and its impact on the spectator.
A dominant personality within abstract art, Dada and Surrealism -- as well as prefiguring junk art and the Fluxus movement, Arp's reliefs and sculptures have had a decisive influence over the sculpture of this century.

To see one of his Human Concretions on display click here.


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