Torse des Pyrénées
is an important example of Arp's mature oeuvre. Conceived in 1959, the present work embodies the transcendent physical beauty that came to be expected of the artist at the height of his career. Its elegant, elongated form is subtly reminiscent of a female torso. This sense of purity bears strong stylistic, technical and poetic affinities with the work of Constantin Brancusi. As Stephanie Poley observed: "Arp was concerned with purity, with being free, being independent of everything unpleasant and limiting and with the active, constant emission of positive energy as well as its perception" (S. Poley in Arp
(exhibition catalogue), Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 1987, p. 229).
At the heart of Arp's artistic triumph is the organic beauty of his sculptures, which seems to manifest from a vision unencumbered by any formal constraints. Since his involvement with Dada and Surrealism in the 1920s and 1930s, Arp's sculpture was recognized for its ability to transcend conventional boundaries and extend its interpretation to any given viewer's expectations. Torse des Pyrénées
evidences some of the central themes of Arp's original manifesto: "All things, and man as well, should be like nature, without measure... I wanted to create new appearances, to extract new forms from man" (quoted in S. Fauchereau, Hans Arp
, Barcelona, 1988, p. 15).
Often guided by chance and intuition, Arp enjoyed creating irregular shapes evocative of natural forms and parts of the human anatomy. The curves of Torse des Pyrénées evoke various parts of the female torso captured in Arp's amorphous expression of the figure. Although he developed a highly abstract visual vocabulary in his sculptures, Arp always established a connection between these biomorphic shapes and elements of the natural world in such a way as to unveil the mysterious and poetic elements hidden in everyday forms.
Torse des Pyrénées was originally conceived in Pyrenean marble and later cast in an edition of three bronzes. Another version from the bronze edition was formerly in the Karl Ströher collection and now resides in the permanent collection of MMK, Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt.