Lot 12
  • 12

Jean Arp

1,500,000 - 2,000,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Jean Arp
  • Ptolémée II
  • Inscribed with the monogram, numbered 0/3 and with the foundry mark Susse Fondeur Paris (on the underside)
  • Bronze
  • Height: 39 3/4 in.
  • 101 cm


Marguerite Arp-Hagenbach, Clamart (by descent from the artist)

Stiftung Hans Arp und Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Rolandseck (acquired from the above)

Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York (acquired from the above by 2004)

Acquired from the above 


Meudon, Musée d'art et histoire (on loan 1980-82)

Toyama, Japan, Museum of Modern Art, Arp: 100th Anniversary of His Birth, 1985-86, no. 25, illustrated in the catalogue 

Künzelsau Gaisbach, Germany, Museum Würth, Hans Arp - eine Übersicht. Arbeiten aus den Jahren 1912 bis 1965, 1994, n.n., illustrated in color in the catalogue


Arp (exhibition catalogue), Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, 1962, illustration of another cast pl. 21

Hans Arp (exhibition catalogue), Kunsthalle, Basel, 1962, another cast listed n.p. 

Arp (exhibition catalogue), Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 1962, another cast listed n.p.

Jean Arp (exhibition catalogue), Tate Gallery, London, 1962, another cast listed n.p.

Michel Seuphor, Arp. Sculptures, Paris, 1964, no. 15, illustration of another cast pl. 15 Hommage à Jean Arp (exhibition catalogue), Ancienne Douane, Strasbourg, 1966-67, another cast listed p. 44

Giuseppe Marchiori, Arp, Milan, 1964, n.n., illustration of another cast p. 66

Eduard Trier, Jean Arp, Sculpture, His Last Ten Years, New York, 1968, no. 167, illustration of another cast pl. 14

IVe Exposition Internationale de Sculpture Contemporain (exhibition catalogue), Musée Rodin, Paris, 1971, illustration of another cast n.p.

Jean Arp, Couturier, Etienne Martin (exhibition catalogue), Palais de la Meditérranée, Nice, 1971-72, illustration of another cast no. 4 

Ionel Jianou, Jean Arp, Paris, 1973, no. 167, catalogued p. 75; illustration of another cast pl. 28

Development of Sculpture in the 20th Century from Rodin to Christo (exhibition catalogue), Museum of Modern Art, Shiga, Japan, 1984, no. 1, illustration of another cast n.p.

Serge Fauchereau, Arp, New York, 1988, no. 101, illustration of another cast p. 82

Sophie Taeuber – Hans Arp (exhibition catalogue), Kunstmuseum, Bern; Stiftung Hans Arp und Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Rolandseck & Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal, 1988-89, no. 117, illustration of another cast p. 201

Biomorph! Hans Arp im Dialog mit aktuellen Künstlerpositionen (exhibition catalogue), Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, Germany, 2011-12, illustration in color of another cast p. 91

Arie Hartog & Kai Fischer, Hans Arp. Sculptures – A Critical Survey, Ostfildern, 2012, no. 167, illustration of another cast & this cast listed pp. 132 & 310

Catalogue Note

Jean 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. Ptolémée II is a stunning example of Arp’s later sculpture where biomorphic forms and chance development contributed to the constant genesis of the artist’s production. Janet Landley examines Arp’s move into three dimensional sculpture and his grounding in Dada principles: “Although he began to make fully realized three-dimensional sculpture only after 1930, prior to that time Arp had experimented with the relatively flat form of sculptural relief…. His move to freestanding sculpture marked a transferal of ideas to another dimension rather than any break with earlier aesthetic premises formulated during the preceding two decades. Throughout his long career, Arp was committed to the continual exploration of fundamental forms, natural growth, and metamorphosis—an approach that led him to a concept of the reintegration of man and nature. In the spirit of the Dada movement he helped to found in 1915, Arp also believed in and celebrated the irrational rather than the rational and was devoted to the synthesizing of unlike things…. Because all living things continually grow and evolve, Arp worked to create an art of new and constantly changing forms... [his] sculptures are about growth, rebirth, and transformation. Their subjects are those of fertility and regeneration, and their forms derive from a morphological system which maintains that all things in nature, including human beings, grow out of a few basic shapes" (J. Landey, “Between Art and Nature: The Metamorphic Sculpture of Jean Arp” in Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts, vol. 61, no. 4, 1984, p. 15).

Three forms bearing the name Ptolémée were created by the artist, the first in 1953, the second (the present work) in 1958 and the third in 1961. Describing this trio of sculptures, Serge Fauchereau opines: “Arp sometimes proceeded by amplifying the forms of a single work. The best example of this is the Ptolemy series, curly figures, hollow and divided (like the mushrooms called ‘clathres’). Ptolemy I… is one meter high, and two interior branches divide its space into three caverns. Ptolemy II… is also one meter high but the body is complicated, with three branches forming five openings. Finally, Ptolemy III… is more than two meters high. It tends toward a symmetry that makes it more majestic; its branches are not as numerous, and they seem to divide the interior space into more harmonious cavities” (S. Fauchereau, Arp, Barcelona, 1988, p. 26). The titles for Arp’s sculptures took on a variety of symbolic forms from plant names, to feelings, to generic human attributes and animal types. He also used names from antiquity both historic figures, such as that of the the present work, and mythological as in the example of Déméter.

Arp frequently compared the practice of artistic production within that of biological creation, both of which are intimately embodied by Ptolémée II. The artist held a particular interest in the natural world, which he aimed to “create” rather than “describe,” as was common in the tradition of naturalism. Furthermore, “Arp’s interest in nature was also directed at what he perceived to be the basic forces and principles underlying nature, the forces of growth and transformation” (M. Andreotti, The Early Sculpture of Jean Arp, Ann Arbor, 1989, p. 259). This proved particularly innovative within the medium of sculpture which had long been dominated by naturalistic representations of the human form.

Other examples of this sculpture are held in the collections of the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Caracas and the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Manitoba.