Lot 6
  • 6

Jean Arp

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 USD
1,085,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Jean Arp
  • La très grande dame
  • Painted papier maché, resin and plaster


Private Collection

PaceWildenstein Gallery, New York (acquired from the above)

Acquired from the above in 2000


New York, PaceWildenstein, Earthly Forms: The Biomorphic Sculpture of Arp, Calder and Noguchi,  2000, illustrated in catalogue,


Eduard Trier, Jean Arp Sculpture: His Last Ten Years, New York, 1968, no. 218, illustration of the bronze p. 112

Mario Naves, “Troika of the Biomorphic Blob: Calder, Noguchi, Arp, Naturally,”  The New York Observer, March 20, 2000, illustrated p. 20

Catalogue Note

Often guided by chance and intuition, Arp enjoyed creating organic, irregular shapes evocative of natural forms and parts of the human anatomy. Although he developed a highly abstract visual vocabulary, in his sculptures Arp always established a connection between these biomorphic forms and elements of the natural world in such a way as to unveil the mysterious and poetic elements hidden in everyday forms. The artist always enjoyed seeing his sculptures in outdoor settings where they could enter into a dialogue with the natural world.  With its amorphous and irregular shape, Torse d'ange evidences some of the central theme's of Arp's original manifesto. "All things, and man as well, should be like nature, without measure," he wrote as a young artist, "I wanted to create new appearances, to extract new forms from man" (quoted in Serge Fauchereau, Arp, 1988, p. 15). 

La très grande dame is a plaster and papier maché model for a bronze that the artist conceived in 1960.  With its smooth and unblemished surface, this form appears to be carved out of marble, and the unexpectedness of its true medium is a fundamental aspect of this beautiful Surrealist sculpture.  The same year this sculpture was created, Michel Seuphor expounded on the spiritual appeal of Arp's forms, of which the present work is a defining example:  "[A] man of accomplished spirituality might see in each of Arp's sculptures a translation of the highest activities of the spirit, the very soul of the Prajna Paramita of the Hindus.  And is not a leaf as authentic an image of the supreme wisdom as the imaginary face of the Buddha?  What is a form if not the expression of a force that animates it, of a spirit that inhabits it?  To let this force, this spirit, speak freely is the aim that Arp undertakes to achieve without going beyond it.  Now it is especially difficult not to go beyond it (through the richness of the imagination, in particular), for this language must be as simple as the song of a bird, as calm as the beating of the heart, as humble as water" (M. Seuphor, Jean Arp & Sophie Taeuber-Arp (exhibition catalogue), Galerie Chalette, New York, 1960, p. 14).