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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Arp, Jean


Lion
1916
India Ink and Pencil on Paper
Illustrated Tristan Tzara's poetry book De Nos Oiseaux, published in 1923

Jean Arp / Hans Arp (1886-1966) was a German-French abstract sculptor, painter, poet and abstract artist in other media such as torn and pasted paper. When Arp spoke in German he referred to himself as "Hans", and when he spoke in French he referred to himself as "Jean". Many people believe that he was born Hans and later changed his name to Jean, but this is not the case.

Arp was born in Strasbourg as the son of a French mother and a German father, during the period following the Franco-Prussian War when the area was known as Alsace-Lorraine (Elsass-Lothringen in German) after France had ceded it to Germany in 1871. Following the return of Alsace to France at the end of World War I, French law determined that his name become Jean.

In 1904, after leaving the Ecole des Arts et Metiers in Strasbourg, he went to Paris where he published his poetry for the first time. From 1905 to 1907, Arp studied at the Kunstschule in Weimar, Germany and in 1908 went back to Paris, where he attended the Academie Julian. In 1912, he went to Munich, called on Kandinsky, was encouraged by him in his researches and exhibited with the Der Blaue Reiter group. Later that year, he took part in a major exhibition in Zurich, along with Henri Matisse and Kandinsky. In 1915 he moved to Switzerland to take advantage of Swiss neutrality. Arp later told the story of how, when he was notified to report to the German consulate, he avoided being drafted into the German Army: he took the paperwork he had been given and, in the first blank, wrote the date. He then wrote the date in every other space as well, then drew a line beneath them and carefully added them up. He then took off all his clothes and went to hand in his paperwork.

Arp was a founding member of the Dada movement in Zurich in 1916. In 1920, he, along with Max Ernst set up the Cologne Dada group. In 1926, Arp moved to the Paris suburb of Meudon. In 1931, he broke with the Surrealist movement to found Abstraction-Creation. Beginning in the 1930s, Arp expanded his efforts from collage and bas-relief to include bronze and stone sculptures. Throughout the 1930s and until the end of his life, he wrote and published essays and poetry. In 1942, he fled from his home in Meudon to escape German occupation and lived in Zurich until the war ended. He died in 1966, in Basel, Switzerland.