Friday, September 15, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ Jean Arp

Jean Arp or Hans Arp (16 September 1886 – 7 June 1966) was a German-French 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".

Excerpts from an article written by John Russell in the New York Times in 1986, to mark the centenary of Arp's birth:

As of the end of World War I, there can have been no doubt that although the name of Jean Arp was known to only a few well-informed observers he was a key figure in the European art world. His qualifications were obvious to all. In 1910 or 1911, according to his own account, he had ''begun to produce what is now called 'abstract art.' ...... In Paris in 1914, he had his portrait drawn by Modigliani and came to know Picasso, Delaunay and others. Likewise in 1914, he went to Cologne, and was recognized as a kindred spirit by Max Ernst. At the out-break of World War I, Arp was in Continued on page 29 Paris, and quite happy to remain there. But as he was German by birth, it became more and more risky for him to do so. Rather than return to Germany and be faced with military service, he made his way to Zurich, represented himself to the German consul as mentally defective and - thanks to feigned oddities of behavior - was exempted from military service. (The German consul could not believe that anyone who made the sign of the cross on seeing a portrait of Field Marshal Hindenburg could be good military material.) ..... As a founding member of the Zurich Dada group, he pioneered the acceptance of accident in art that for 50 or 60 years to come was one of the key notions of avant-garde art... He was also a pioneer of the automatic writing and drawing that were to be fundamental to surrealism in the 1920's.

And, not least, he fell in love at first sight with a young painter called Sophie Taeuber, who later became his wife. Theirs was a marriage of equals, with never a hint of rivalry. When we look at the work that they produced jointly in Zurich, we find it impossible to say who did what, so perfectly did their imaginations meet and match. With her clear, bell-like laugh, her almost magical affinity with all living creatures and her never-failing sense of wonder, she was poetry personified.

By the time that he turned 30, in 1916, Arp had developed more than one of the modalities that have been an enduring part of 20th-century art. Deliberately, he took the stressful, body-building element out of art and made it look weightless, incorporeal and full of wit. ''Life is a puzzling puff of wind,'' he once wrote, and he liked to feel that his work had that kind of aerial energy.......................

Turning to poetry, for which he had a free-flowing lyrical gift that rarely failed him, he found that a sentence taken at random from a newspaper was as compelling to him as anything in the great poetry of the past. The big fat volume of his collected poems is there to prove that this was neither a silly nor a presumptuous idea. Arp was a word man as much as an image man, and to the end of his life he was still, in a sense, the 17-year-old boy who, as he remembered it, ''had filled page after page with unusual word-combinations, invented unusable verbs from nouns, altered well-known verses and declaimed them constantly with abandon and elation, on and on as if it would never come to an end . . .''

 Pagoda Fruit

 Winged Being


 Sculpture to be Lost in the Forest

What's impossible to ignore when looking at Arp's sculptures, those shown here (and the many more to be seen via Google Image) is the lack of sharp angles. Everything is extremely smooth, rounded, curved - there's nothing harsh or jarring. So this is his sculptural "signature". His other artwork, mainly collages show the same tendency.

The shapes in his work evoke worn pebbles, buds and other natural forms. He created these sculptures using a quasi-automatic process of sanding away at a plaster model until he was satisfied with the shape. ‘I work until enough of my life has flowed into its body’, he said.

I wondered whether his "rounded with no sharp angle" signature style might, somehow, be reflected in Arp's natal chart.

Born on 16 September 1886 at 6:00 AM in Strasbourg, France. (Data from Astrodatabank.)

With Sun, Mercury, Venus and ascendant in Earthy and meticulous Virgo it's no surprise to find his urge for perfection and reflections of nature in the form of his sculptures; nor to discover that he was also "a word man as much as an image man" (Virgo is ruled by Mercury).

Arp had Jupiter and Uranus conjunct in Venus-ruled Libra. Uranus reflects his gravitation to modernity and abstract art, while Jupiter...well, when asking myself which planet I think of when considering smooth rounded shapes, first thought, for some reason, was...Jupiter.


Wisewebwoman said...

Interesting couple. I love how you dig these artists up and educate us. 😊


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~ Educating myself too! :-)