Over a career spanning more than six decades, Jean (Hans) Arp (1886–1966) produced a remarkably influential body of work in a rich variety of materials and formats, creating drawings, prints, books, textiles, collages, painted reliefs, and sculptures. Disillusioned by the destructiveness of World War I, Arp sought creative strategies analogous to processes found in nature, such as growth, gravity, decay, and chance. A founder of the Dada movement and a pioneer of abstraction, he developed a vocabulary of curving, organic forms that moved fluidly between abstraction and representation and became a common point of reference for several generations of artists.
Accompanying a major retrospective organized by the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, this publication offers a richly illustrated and deeply researched examination of Arp’s life and work. Featuring more than ninety full-page color plates and numerous archival photographs, it reveals as never before Arp’s contributions to modern art, the legacy of his commitment to an art drawing its inspiration from processes found in nature, and his embrace of interdisciplinary, collaborative means of expression. Essays by exhibition curator Catherine Craft and scholars Lewis Kachur, Walburga Krupp, and Tessa Paneth-Pollak explore Arp’s wide-ranging, innovative body of work in relation to his forerunners and contemporaries, its subversive challenges to artistic convention, his response to two world wars, and his lifelong dedication to engagement with other artists, writers, and artisans. An introduction to the list of artworks assesses the state of research on the artist’s complex oeuvre, and a biography and bibliography offer up-to-date references for understanding and appreciating Arp’s extraordinary achievements.