The Sensuous Shapes of Jean Arp
By Najla Abuesba
When times are tough, it can be encouraging to find inspiration in people who have made the most of hardship. Jean Arp, one of the founders of Dadaism, faced a world on the brink of self-destruction twice - during World War I and II. His sculptures, paintings and collages rejected the madness in the world and demonstrated that humanity and nature are one. After the German army attempted to force Arp into service, he fled to Zurich which is where he became a founding member of an artistic revolution designed to subvert the nonsensical logic that led to the war. That revolution was called Dadaism.
Disgusted by the madness of war, Dadaisits experimented with the laws of chance and with the found object. To that affect, Arp tore out shapes of paper and then let the shapes fall randomly onto a surface, pasting them where they landed and presenting the resulting image as his art. He relinquished society’s authoritative reasoning and believed the natural world was governed by both logic and chaos.
As with his collages, Arp’s sculptures were formed with a focus on chance and nature. The word most commonly used to describe Jean Arp’s sculptures is biomorphic, meaning they relate to shapes of primordial nature. His belief in humanity’s connection to nature came in a series of sculptures he called Human Concretions. These three-dimensional forms were fuelled by themes of transformation, growth, fecundity and the natural world.
Today, Arp’s influence is seen in curved, sensuous sculptures and playful ceramics appealing to the masses.