*1886 in Strasbourg, France
†1966 in Basel, Switzerland
Jean (Hans) Arp was a German-French sculptor and painter of Alsatian origin, who pioneered Dada and abstraction. His legacy of work - sculptures, paintings, collages and writing – harnessed organic forms and unconscious thought to challenge established ideas of art. He described, “We do not wish to imitate nature, we do not wish to reproduce. We want to produce. We want to produce the way a plant produces its fruit, not depict.” Arp’s biomorphic shapes examine the nature of birth, growth, death and chance. Arp spent the early 1910s working with Robert and Sonia Delaunay in Paris and Wassily Kandinsky in Munich. He then fled to Zürich to avoid the war in 1915 where he pioneered the Zürich Dada group at the Cabaret Voltaire alongside Hugo Ball and Sophie Tauber, his wife. After spending the next decades in Paris, during which time he exhibited with the first surrealist group, Arp was forced to flee again during German occupation to Switzerland, where he remained for the rest of his life. Among many accolades, Arp won the Grand Prize for sculpture at the 1954 Venice Biennale, MoMA held a solo retrospective of his work in 1958, followed by the Pompidou in 1962. Today, the artist’s sculptures are held by the Tate Gallery, London; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Art Institute of Chicago, among many others.