Jean Arp French, 1886-1966


Also known as Hans Arp, the German-French artist was born in Strasbourg in 1886. After studying at the Ecole des Arts et Métiers in 1904, he attended the Akademie der Schönen Künste in Weimar, and the Académie Julian in Paris. He created his first abstract works in 1910-11, and in 1912 became acquainted with the Delaunays, Van Doesburg and Kandinsky.

In 1915 he met his future wife and most significant artistic partner Sophie Taeuber, who encouraged him to use non-traditional materials and techniques. He developed a visual language of simplified natural forms, creating abstract collages, relief-sculpture and poetry. He was a founding member of the Dada groups in Zurich and Cologne, and contributed to the Surrealists’ first exhibition in Paris. His sculptural work became more rounded after 1929 as he sought to represent the basic organic elements, and in 1931 he formed the Abstraction-Création group. His wife died in an accident in 1943, and although he remarried, he spent years writing poetry and promoting the legacy of her work. He eventually returned to sculpture, receiving many awards – including the Grand Prize for Sculpture at the 1954 Venice Biennale.


Arp died in 1966, in Basel.

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