Jean Arp

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Art is a fruit that grows in man.

Jean Arp / Hans Arp (16 September 18867 June 1966) was a German/French sculptor, painter, poet and a founding member of Dadaism. Later he engaged himself with the French surrealists and lived in Paris. (When Arp spoke in German he referred to himself as "Hans", and when he spoke in French he referred to himself as "Jean".)


  • Revolted by the butchery of the 1914 World War, we in Zurich devoted ourselves to the arts. While guns rumbled in the distance, we sang, painted, made collages and wrote poems with all our might. We were seeking an art based on fundamentals, to cure the madness of the age, and find a new order of things that would restore the balance between heaven and hell. We had a dim premonition that power-mad gangsters would one day use art itself as a way of deadening men's minds.
    • Dadaland (1948)[1938?]
  • Structures of lines, surfaces, forms, colours. They try to approach the eternal, the inexpressible above men. They are a denial of human egotism. They are the hatred of human immodesty, the hatred of images, of paintings... Wisdom (is) the feeling for the coming reality, the mystical, the definite indefinite, the greatest definite.
    • text by Hans Arp himself in a catalogue of his own exhibition, Zürich 1915
  • We painted embroidered and made collages. All these works were drawn from the simplest forms and were probably the first examples of concrete art. These works are realities pure and independent with no meaning or cerebral intention. We rejected all mimesis and description, giving free reign to the elementary and spontaneous. (circa 1916, on his cooperation with his future wife Sophie Täuber, ed.)
    • Anna Moszynska, Abstract Art, Thames and Hudson, London, 1990, p.65
  • Dada aimed to destroy the reasonable deceptions of man and recover the natural and unreasonable order.
    • Anna Moszynska, Abstract Art, Thames and Hudson, London, 1990, p. 66
  • A deep and serene silence filled her structures composed of colors and surfaces. The exclusive use of horizontal and vertical rectangular planes in the work of art, the extreme simplification, exerted a decisive influence on my work. Here I found, stripped down to the limit, the essential elements of all earthly constructions: the bursting, upward surge of the lines and the planes toward the sky, the verticality of pure life, and the vast equilibrum, the sheer horizontality and expansiveness of dreamlike peace. Her work was for me a symbol of a divinely built 'house' which man in his vanity has ravaged and sullied.(a remark on the art of Sophie Täuber, whom he later married, ed.)
    • Michel Seuphor, Abstract Painting, Dell Publishing Co., 1964, p. 58
  • A painting or sculpture not modelled on any real object is every bit as concrete and sensuous as a leaf or a stone... (but) it is an incomplete art which privileges the intellect to the detriment of the senses... (art must be like, ed.) fruit that grows in man, like a fruit on a plant or a child in it’s mother’s womb. (circa 1930)
    • Anna Moszynska, Abstract Art, Thames and Hudson, London, 1990, p. 113
  • We do not wish to copy nature. We do not want to reproduce, we want to produce. We want to produce as a plant produces a fruit and does not itself reproduce. We want to produce directly and without meditation. As there is not the least trace of abstraction in this art, we will call it concrete art.
    • "Jours effeuillés: Poèmes, essaies, souvenirs", Gallimard, Paris 1966, p. 183
  • I like nature but not its substitutes. Naturalist art, illusionism, is a substitute for nature. I remember that in arguing with Mondrian (in Paris 1920s, ed.), he opposed art to nature saying that art is artificial and nature is natural. I do not share this opinion. I do not think that nature is in natural opposition to art. Art’s origins are natural.
    • "Jours effeuillés: Poèmes, essaies, souvenirs", Gallimard, Paris 1966, p. 359
  • It was Sophie (Taeuber, his later wife, ed.) who, by the example of her work and her life, both of them bathed in clarity, showed me the right way. In her world, the high and the low, the light and the dark, the eternal and the ephemeral, are balanced in prefect equilibrium.
    • 'Unsern täglichen Traum', Hans Arp; p. 76; as quoted in "Arp", ed. Serge Fauchereau, Ediciones Poligrafa, S. A., Barcelona 1988, p. 11
  • I allow myself to be guided by the work which is in the process of being born, I have confidence in it (automatic painting, ed.). I do not think about it. The forms arrive pleasant, or strange, hostile, inexplicable, mute, or drowsy. They are born from themselves. It seems to me as if all I do is move my hands.
    • "Jours effeuillés: Poèmes, essaies, souvenirs", Gallimard, Paris 1966, p. 307
  • Ever since my childhood, I was haunted by the search for perfection. An imperfectly cut paper literally made me ill, I would guillotine it. My collages came undone, they became blistered. I then introduced death and decay in my compositions. I reacted (around 1932, ed.) by avoiding any precision from one day to another. Instead of cutting the paper, I would tear it with my hands.
    • "Jours effeuillés: Poèmes, essaies, souvenirs", Gallimard, Paris 1966, p. 431
  • Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation...tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.
    • Arp on Arp: poems, essays, memories, Viking, 1972, p. 231

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