Jean Hans Arp

(Strasbourg, 1886 – Basel, 1966)


Jean, or Hans, Arp was born in Strasbourg. He moved to Switzerland in 1915 where he co-founded the Zurich dada group. During this period and in the 1920s he made wooden reliefs, collages and drawings. He was interested in the effects of chance and also in nature and organic forms. Arp met his future wife Sophie Taeuber in 1922, and they produced many collaborative works. Arp joined the surrealist group in 1925 after the dada movement disbanded. He began making free-standing sculpture in the early 1930s, after previously making only sculptural reliefs.

An important common ground between him and the other Surrealists was his interest in nature. Arp’s works represent nature as a great underlying power in life.

By 1936, his reputation spread with the participation in his first two shows in New York: Cubism and Abstract Art and Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism, and the first Surrealist art exhibition in London.

In 1939, he officially changed his name to Jean and left Paris for the Dordogne before the occupation, subsequently settling in Grasse in the South.

s the situation deteriorated and they were unable to obtain American visas, in 1942, the Arps took refuge in Switzerland where Sophie died tragically in 1943

Arp returned to Paris in 1945, and finally went back to his studio in Meudon in 1946, starting to sculpt again in 1947 paring shapes down to their geometric essence. In 1949, he visited the United States for the first time and went again in 1950 at the invitation of Walter Gropius.

Hans Arp died of a heart attack in Basel on June 7, 1966 and was interred in Locarno.

One of the most important abstract sculptors of the 20th century, Arp strove constantly to extend the boundaries of conventional art. His work is housed at some of the most important museums in the world, including the Tate Modern, London; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Art, Philadelphia and the Museum of Art, Basel.

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