Just In: Jean Arp

March 16, 2017

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA) is pleased to present a sculptural work by the renowned French-German artist Jean Arp, which will be available in the May 21, 2017 Modern Art & Design Auction.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Lot 217, Jean Arp, Untitled, c. 1960
May 21, 2017 Modern Art & Design Auction

Jean (Hans) Arp (1886-1966) was closely connected to some of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Born in Strasbourg, he completed his studies at the École des Arts et Métiers in 1904 whereupon he traveled extensively throughout Europe, alighting in Munich, in 1912, where he exhibited alongside Wassily Kandinsky, Henri Matisse, Robert Delaunay and Paul Klee. He is, however, perhaps best known as one of the founders of the avant-garde Dada movement, in Zurich in 1916. Along with artists like Marcel Duchamp and Kurt Schwitters, Arp rejected the ideology of bourgeois society, instead favoring a radical new art – one which incorporated chaos, irrationality and accident in its making.

Arp was an important, early pioneer of abstraction and developed his signature aesthetic, of loosely-modeled biomorphic forms with a simple palette, at an early stage. His output consisted of paintings, wall reliefs and collages until 1930 when he began to make sculptures. These free-standing works are often understood as three-dimensional reinterpretations of earlier relief work. Untitled (c. 1960) is an example of the artist’s late sculpture, a small-scale bronze work, over which a golden patina has been applied. Set on a black plinth, it is endowed with a grandeur and formality that belies the revolutionary spirit of the artist’s early work.

While Untitled is abstract, its organic, curved forms suggest a relation to the human body, in a similar vein to the work of Arp’s contemporaries Henry Moore and Constantin Brancusi. In 1955 he said, “Art should lose itself in nature. It should even be confused with nature. But this should be attained not by imitation but by the opposite of naturalist copying on canvas or stone.” With its undulating surface and rich color, this sensual work evokes nature without slavishly imitating its forms. From some angles, Untitled could be viewed as a contorted figure, from others a gaping visage. By opting to leave the sculpture untitled, Arp allows a multiplicity of interpretations.

Untitled comes from the estate of Franklin D. Murphy, a former chancellor of UCLA and an important Los Angeles philanthropist. Murphy founded the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden on the UCLA campus in 1967, one of the country’s leading outdoor sculpture collections which contains works by Arp, as well as such luminaries as Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder and Auguste Rodin.

Lot Information:

Lot 217
Jean (Hans) Arp
c. 1960
Bronze with gold patina
5.5” x 3” x 2.75”
Provenance: The Estate of Franklin D. Murphy
Est.: $20,000-30,000
May 21, 2017 Modern Art & Design Auction

Kimmelman, Michael. “Review/Art; The Power of Whimsy: Jean Arp’s Later Work.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 03 May 1990. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.
Robertson, Eric. “Arp and Surrealism.” Arp: Painter, Poet, Sculptor. New Haven: Yale UP, 2010. 71. Print.
Robertson, Eric. “Sculpting in Air, Writing in Stone: Hans Jean Arp.” From Rodin to Giacometti: Sculpture and Literature in France 1880-1950. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000. 109. Print.
Robertson, Eric. “Architect of Dreams.” Arp: Painter, Poet, Sculptor. New Haven: Yale UP, 2010. 116. Print.


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