Jean Arp

/Works and biography


Overturned Blue Shoe with Two Heels Under a Black Vault
(Soulier bleu renversé à deux talons, sous une voûte noire), ca. 1925
Painted wood, 79.3 x 104.6 x 5 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553 PG 53
© Jean Arp, by SIAE 2008


Jean Arp participated in Dada activities in Zurich in the teens; during the mid-twenties he allied himself to a certain extent with the Surrealists, sharing their faith in unfettered creativity, their celebration of spontaneity, and their antirational stance. He executed his first monochrome wood reliefs in 1914, adding the element of color two years later. Comprised of discrete wood forms mounted individually on wood supports, these reliefs are assembled like collages rather than carved. By combining aspects of painting, collage, and sculpture, the reliefs of the teens and twenties served in some sense as a bridge to his sculpture in the round. Arp regarded his simplified forms as emblems of natural growth processes, and continued to make reliefs throughout his life. According to Arp, his works carried their own momentum and arrived at organic solutions subject as much to the laws of chance as to his conscious manipulations. He commented on the “ridiculous” analogies of forms that resulted from this process; his descriptive titles, such as that of the present work were often correspondingly whimsical.

credits: Hangar Design Group