Jean Arp
Coryphée, 1961

The work of Jean/Hans Arp combines the major art trends in the early 20th Century: Dada, surrealism and the foundation abstract trends. From 1916 Arp made a name for himself as a poet, sculptor and painter. His associative play with linguistic ambiguity finds its pictorial counterpart in his collages, sculptures and reliefs. Arp’s creative work revolves around two major categories of themes: the human body and the natural world of plants. Clear hints to the human figure appear in Arp’s late work, like in Coryphée, where sculptural curvatures find a congenial answer in the precision of a black granite pedestal. The smoothly polished marble surface underlines the softly contoured form, reminiscent of a female torso or a plant. Jean Arp’s sculpture Coryphée fuses aspects of antiquity, dance and the plant kingdom: The use of the word can be traced back via the French ‘coryphée’, describing a soloist in a ballet ensemble, to the Greek term ‘koryphaĩos’, which refers to the leader of the chorus in the ancient Greek theatre. Just like the mountain nymph Daphne who transformed into a laurel tree, in Arp’s imagination, the ballerina is transformed into a dancing vegetable silhouette.

Jean Arp

* 1886 Strasbourg, F
† 1966 Basel, CH
Jean Arp
Lèvres et glace a main, 1927
Oil on wood, Ed. 1/2

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