331
331

STANDARDS OF EXCELLENCE: THE BLEMA AND H. ARNOLD STEINBERG COLLECTION

Jean Arp
BANNIÈRE IV
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 250,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
331

STANDARDS OF EXCELLENCE: THE BLEMA AND H. ARNOLD STEINBERG COLLECTION

Jean Arp
BANNIÈRE IV
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 250,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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New York

Jean Arp
1886 - 1966
BANNIÈRE IV
Signed Arp (on a label on the reverse)
Painted wood relief
47 1/8 by 17 in.
119.7 by 43.2 cm
Executed in 1961-62.
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Provenance

Richard Huelsenbeck, New York (and sold: Sotheby Parke-Bernet, New York, May 12, 1965, lot 64)
Acquired at the above sale

Literature

Bernd Rau, Hans Arp, die Reliefs: Oeuvre-Katalog, Stuttgart, 1981, no. 691, illustrated p. 334
Karen Thomson, ed., The Blema and H. Arnold Steinberg Collection, Montreal, 2015, no. 1, illustrated in color p. 10

Catalogue Note

The present work is the last in a series of four wood relief "banners" of identical heights which Arp began in 1961. Arp’s reliefs often prompt analogies with the activity of writing and with language systems: “There is in me a certain need for communicating with human beings. Black and white equals writing” (the artist quoted in Eric Robertson, Arp, Painter, Poet, Sculptor, New Haven, 2006, p. 150). Many of his later reliefs employ black and white, or as in this case white and grey, while the semi-abstracted biomorphic shapes recall any number of inverted proto-alphabetic inscriptions such as indented cuneiform tablets.

Alongside the rigorously reduced color palette, the associations between Arp’s abstract pictorial vocabulary and written communication are further reinforced by his titles. His malleable "Object-language" which stems directly from his involvement with Dada stimulates the viewer’s natural instinct to interpret signs. There is nothing unintentional or "chance" about a banner so one cannot help but look for a message. “His titles are evidence of his playfulness and his attraction to the poetic qualities of the words as they allow him to extend the visual response to his work into the verbal and mental realm” (Janet Landay, "Between Art and Nature: The Metamorphic Sculpture of Jean Arp," in Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts, 1984, p. 14).

The more organic the forms, the more complex the chains of association. Are the figures in Bannière IV sequential or unrelated? Rising or falling? Or has the elongated rectangle implied a misplaced sense of gravity? As one contemporary remarked, the non-objective shallow relief sculptures of this period are “a kind of architecture applied to a wall, where it does not require a helicopter to be fully seen” (George Rickey, Constructivism: Origins and Evolution, New York, 1967, n.p.). In the spirit of the Dada movement, Arp was committed throughout his career to continual exploration of metamorphosis and the synthesizing of unlike things, and in his wood reliefs it is the series of binary oppositions which he sets up—white/dark, raised/flat, figure/ground—that lend these objects their ludic qualities.

Will the unreal world of progress
founder and go down?
A dream-cloud
drops from infinity.
One dream-cloud after another
rises toward infinity.

—Jean Arp, Gislebertus of Autun, 1962

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

|
New York