Genius sculptor and a brilliant poet who was bored to create in the same style
Jean Arp (September 16, 1886 June 7, 1966) is a famous Franco-German artist of the twentieth century, one of the founders of Dadaism. Jean Arp was a versatile creative person, he successfully realized his talent in sculpture, graphics, painting and literature. Most of his paintings are painted in the style of abstract art, and the best masterpieces of the master’s work are in museums in France and Germany. The artist’s biography is full of interesting events and numerous travels to European countries.
Jean Arp worked closely with colleagues throughout his life. He maintained friendly relations with many prominent masters of the arts of the first half of the twentieth century, including Kazimir Malevich, Max Ernst, Kurt Schwitters and El Lissitzky.
Biography of Jean Arp
Jean Arp was born on September 16, 1886 in Strasbourg. His father, Jurgen, was of German descent, was the owner of a thriving cigar factory, and his French mother was a talented pianist and singer. Jean and his younger brother Willie from an early age, in addition to German and French, were fluent in the Alsatian dialect. Parents called the future artist Hans in childhood, and only after the end of the First World War, when Strasbourg became part of France, Arpu, in accordance with the new laws, had to officially change his name to “Jean”.
In 1904, the 18-year-old boy entered the Weimar Art School, and four years later he continued his studies at the Académie Julian in Paris. However, Jean never received a diploma from these institutions, as he dropped out of both due to disagreements with teachers and rejection of traditional teaching methods.
In 1909, Jean Arp settled in Lucerne, where his father had recently moved his cigar factory. Here he became one of the founders of the modernist association Moderne Bund and over the next several years he took an active part in exhibitions together with his like-minded people.
1912 was marked by two important events for Jean.
First, in Munich, he met and made friends with Wassily Kandinsky, and through him became close to members of the creative union “Blue Horseman”. Secondly, at the same time, Arp’s poems were first published and he gained popularity as a talented poet.
Until 1915, Jean Arp lived permanently in Germany, first in Munich, and later in Berlin. But then he was forced to leave for Switzerland, in Zurich, to avoid being drafted into the army. Here he met the artist Sophie Taeuber, who for many years became his faithful companion in life, and since 1922 his official wife. The couple did not have children, but otherwise this marriage was very successful. Jean and Sophie created many wonderful works together, they loved each other and enjoyed spending time together. Unfortunately, the artist’s first wife died tragically in 1943 from carbon monoxide poisoning.
In 1917, Jean Arp began to seriously engage in sculpture and it was this type of fine art that subsequently brought the master the greatest fame. A couple of years later, under the influence of his wife, the artist became interested in Dadaism and soon became one of the most prominent representatives of this trend. Together with Max Ernst and Alfred Grünwald in 1920, they created the Cologne branch of the Dadaists, after which they have repeatedly held successful exhibitions of their work.
In 1925, Jean Arp’s artistic tastes changed again.
The artist became interested in surrealism and worked in this innovative style for the next six years. Then he and his wife moved to France, the couple settled in the suburbs of Paris, where Jean was happy to write poetry, create collages, bas-reliefs, stone and bronze sculptures.
In 1931, Arp finally broke with surrealism and became one of the founders of the creative association of adherents of abstractionism called Abstraction-Création. This union ceased to exist eight years later, but Jean did not change his creative views until the end of his life and remained faithful to the avant-garde art.
In 1940, after the occupation of France by Nazi Germany, the artist fled to neutral Switzerland, where he lived for six years, and then returned to Paris. In the late 1940s, Jean Arp embarked on a three-year long journey around the world. At first he visited the United States and even wanted to live in this country forever, but then he changed his mind. After America, the master visited Greece and Italy, lived in France for less than six months, after which he permanently moved to Switzerland.
He settled in a spacious villa near Locarno, where he led a very wealthy life.
After the tragic death of his first wife, Jean Arp remained a widower for a long time, but in 1959 he nevertheless married again Margarita Hagenbach, whom he had known for many years. By the end of his life, the artist became widely known, he created with pleasure and was constantly provided with expensive orders.
At the zenith of his fame, Jean Arp died on June 7, 1966 during a short trip to Basel. The great master was buried with honors in Locarno, and the original tombstone, personally designed by the sculptor, was subsequently erected at the place of his burial. Interestingly, the remains of the artist’s two wives, Sophie Teuber and Margarita Hagenbach, are buried in the same grave.
The most famous works of Jean Arp
The ingenious avant-garde master has created many unique masterpieces of art. And yet, the most famous works of Jean Arp are:
- Evocation of a Form: Human, Lunar, Spectral (1950) an abstract composition of cast bronze, embodying the complexity of the world around. This work still adorns the sculpture garden next to the Hirshhorn Art Museum in Washington DC.
- Berger des Nuages (1954) a huge sculpture created by a master commissioned by the University of Caracas. The original composition is located on the campus, and many of its small-sized copies have been installed in various European countries.
- Colonne de rêve (1958) the most expensive work of the artist. The sculpture was sold at Christie’s auction in 2007 for a record 2,393,000.
- Scrutant l’horizon is the last work of the artist, which was installed in one of the parks in The Hague after the death of the author. Unlike most sculptures of similar style, this masterpiece is not made of bronze, but of stone.
Jean Arp is rightfully one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century. He left a bright mark not only in the visual arts, but also in literature, and his works are still of interest to millions of connoisseurs of beauty.