Lot 6
  • 6

Jean Arp

1,500,000 - 2,500,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Jean Arp
  • Horloge
  • Signed Arp (on a label on the reverse)
  • Painted wood relief
  • 25 7/8 by 22 3/4 in.
  • 65.7 by 57.7 cm


Mary Callery, New York & Paris (likely acquired in the 1930s)

Private Collection (acquired by descent from the above and sold: Christie's, Paris, July 2, 2009, lot 24)

Acquired at the above sale


Paris, Musée Rodin, Jeunesse des Maitres de la Sculpture, 1959

Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Arp, 1962, no. 54, illustrated in the catalogue


Jean Cathelin, Arp, New York, 1959, illustrated in color p. 15

Herbert Read, Arp, London, 1968, no. 66, illustrated p. 204

Bernd Rau & Michel Seuphor, Hans Arp, Die Reliefts Oeuvre-Katalog, Stuttgart, 1981, no. 57b, illustrated p. 379 (illustrated upside down)

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1924, Horloge is a highly accomplished example of Arp’s wood reliefs. 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 H. Read, Arp, London, 1968, p. 72).

Jane Hancock wrote about Arp’s reliefs from the 1920s: "Highly stylized and often comical images of human beings and everyday objects dominated Arp’s work in the 1920s. He based these on the real world but did not use them in a conventional representational manner. Once he compared this nonliteral iconography and highly original style to a linguistic system: The problem of the object language cropped up in 1920: the navel, the clock, the doll, etc. The elements of this Object Language included not only whole figures and faces, but also isolated features such as lips, noses, navels, and breasts...They often bear slight resemblance to the items they represent, and the viewer unfamiliar with Arp’s work must depend on his titles to identify them...The colors of the reliefs tended to become subdued during the 1920s, with less red, green, and yellow, and more white, gray, blue, and black. Arp continued to insist on many aesthetic principles he had adopted earlier: clearly defined forms, organic shapes, irregular compositional arrangements, flatness" (J. Hancock, “The Figure and Its Attributes: Dada and Surrealism” in Arp (exhibition catalogue), Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart (and travelling), 1986-88, p. 88).