Inscribed with the artist's monogram, numbered twice 1/5, and inscribed with the foundry mark Susse Fondr. Paris
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above in 1980
Edouard Trier, Jean Arp, Sculpture, His Last Ten Years, New York, 1968, no. 258, illustrated p.116
Ionel Jianou, Jean Arp, Paris, 1973, listed p. 70
Arp's most successful sculptures are characterized by their unblemished surfaces and smooth curvilinear forms. Since his involvement with Dada and Surrealism in the 1920s and 1930s and until the end of his life, the elegant beauty of Arp's sculpture was increasingly analyzed in terms of spirituality. Recognized throughout his career for his ability to transcend formal boundaries and create works of art that could be interpreted differently depending upon a given viewer's needs and expectations, Arp was labelled by one critic as "a well-rounded mystic" for his ability to appeal to a wide audience. At the heart of Arp's success is the organic beauty of his sculptures, which seem to manifest from a vision unencumbered by any formal constraints.
Torse (Stèle) is a stunning example of Arp's mature oeuvre. Its elegant, elongated form is subtly reminiscent of a human figure. 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).
Guided by chance and intuition, the artist often created organic, irregular shapes evocative of natural forms and parts of human anatomy. Although he developed a highly abstract visual vocabulary, in his sculptures Arp always established a connection between these biomorphic forms and elements hidden in everyday forms. Arp always enjoyed seeing his sculptures in natural settings, as evidenced by his large carvings placed in the garden outside his studio, where they could merge into the landscape and become one with nature.
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