Jean (Hans) Arp

Born Born 16 September 1886 in Strasbourg, died 7 June 1966. Sculptor, painter and poet. Visited Paris in 1904 and was deeply impressed by the modern paintings. Went to Weimar and attended courses at the academy under Professor Ludwig von Hoffmann from 1905 to 1907. Spent some time at the Julian Academy of Paris in 1908. After that, he went to Weggis, Switzerland, where he worked for some years in solitude.

In 1911 he met the painters Gimmi, Helbig and Lüthy with whom he founded the “Moderner Bund” (Modern League) in 1911. In the same year he visited Kandinsky in Munich, who requested Arp’s collaboration on the book Der blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider). Arp also took part in the second Blauer Reiter exhibition in Munich in 1912. In 1913 he contributed to the Berlin periodical Der Sturm (The Storm), and took part in the “First German Autumn Saloon” at Der Sturm gallery.

He met Apollinaire, Arthur Cravan, Max Jacob, Picasso, and Modigliani in Paris, in 1914, but after the declaration of war, he returned to Switzerland, where he exhibited his first abstract works (rectangular forms), collages, and tapestries, and met Sophie Taeuber, whom he later married.

He became a co-founder of the Zürich Dada movement in 1916. Illustrated Tristan Tzara‘s 25 Poems and Richard Huelsenbeck‘s Fantastic Prayers, the latter with woodcuts which he called Studies in Symmetry. In his Dadaland Arp writes, “I met Tzara and Serner at the ‘Odeon’ and the ‘Café Terasse’ in Zürich, where we were writing a cycle of poems called ‘Hyperbole of the Crocodile-Hairdresser and the Walking-Stick.’ This kind of poem was later called ‘Automatic Poetry.'”

In 1917 he created his first abstract wooden reliefs, and exhibited at the first Zürich Dada exhibition, and published works in the magazines Cabaret Voltaire, Dada, Der Zeltweg and 391 issue 8.

In 1919 he travelled to Cologne, and founded a Dada group there with Max Ernst and Johannes Baargeld. Later in Berlin he met El Lissitzky, Kurt Schwitters and other Dadaists. In 1922 he married Sophie Taeuber, and in 1923 collaborated with Kurt Schwitters on the latter’s periodical Merz. He published, with El Lissitzky, Isms in Art, in which he defined Dada: “Dadaism has launched an attack on the fine arts. It has declared art to be a magic opening of the bowels, administered an enema to the Venus of Milo, and finally enabled ‘Laocoon and Sons’ to ease themselves after a thousand-year struggle with the rattlesnake. Dadaism has reduced positive and negative to utter nonsense. It has been destructive in order to achieve indifference.”

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