Lot 2
  • 2

Jean Arp

800,000 - 1,200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Jean Arp
  • Configuration
  • Painted wood relief
  • 27 1/2 by 33 1/2 in.
  • 70 by 85 cm


Private Collection (acquired from the artist circa 1933-34)

Private Collection (acquired by descent from the above and sold: Christie's, London, February 9, 2011, lot 107)

Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


Tokyo, Nippon Salon, Album surréaliste. Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme, 1937, no. 4, illustrated in the catalogue (dated 1933)

Zurich, Galerie des Eaux-Vives, 1945, no. 10

Indianapolis, John Herron Art Museum, 20th Century Painting and Sculpture: Cantor and Witzinger Collections, 1955


D'aci i d'alla, vol. XXII, 1934, illustrated

Gaceta de arte, no. 38, 1936, illustrated p. 78

E. Bille, 'Hans Arp', in Ny Tidskrift for Kunstindustri, no. 9, 1937, illustrated p. 161 (dated 1934)

Michel Seuphor, Mission spirituelle de l'art: A propos de l'oeuvre de Sophie Taeuber-Arp et de Jean Arp, Paris, 1953, illustrated p. 29 (titled Formes concrètes and dated 1929)

Bernd Rau & Michel Seuphor, Hans Arp, Die Reliefs, Oeuvre-katalog, Stuttgart, 1981, no. 237, illustrated p. 116 (incorrectly illustrated as no. 244, p. 119)

Catalogue Note

Wood reliefs held a central place in Arp’s work throughout his career, from the time of his collaboration with the Dada group in Zurich, to his mature and highly productive period of the 1950s and 1960s.  Guided by chance and intuition, the artist created organic, irregular shapes evocative of natural forms and parts of human anatomy. Although he developed a highly abstract pictorial vocabulary, in his reliefs 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 images.  As he once wrote in a letter to a friend: "Dada is for nature and against ‘art’.  Dada is, like nature, ‘direct’, and seeks to give everything its essential place in nature. Dada is for infinite sense and definite means" (quoted in Herbert Read, Arp, London, 1968, p. 72).

Configuration was executed in 1932, when Arp was fully immersed in the activities of the Surrealist group.  Arp’s involvement with these artists had grown through his acquaintance with Miró, Ernst and André Breton while they were all living in Paris in the 1920s. His reliefs evolved from his earlier Dada imagery, while adopting a less abstract manner and at the same time pointing to his interest in Constructivism.  The principle of chance that led Arp in the creation of his reliefs shows a great affinity with the philosophy of the Surrealist artists, as does his tendency to depict forms evocative of the human body and other organic imagery.