Private Collection (1981)
Galerie St. Gilles, Zurich (sold: Sotheby's, London, 9th December 1997, lot 259)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
Scottsdale, Arizona, Desert Art School, Surrealist Exhibition, 1951, illustrated in the catalogue
Nez et fauteuil was executed in 1925, the year when Arp moved to Paris, taking a studio at 22 rue Tourlaque, neighbouring those of Max Ernst and Joan Miró. Arp’s involvement with the Surrealist group had grown through his acquaintance with these artists as well as with André Breton. His works from this period 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 cut-outs and reliefs shows a great affinity with the philosophy of Surrealist artists, as does his tendency to depict forms evocative of human body in a humorous, sometimes grotesque manner. The present composition is dominated by boldly coloured red and yellow forms against a neutral, white background. Despite the flatness of the composition, the shadow-like feature along the top and left of the composition gives it a sense of depth. Executed shortly after the dissolution of the Dada movement and in the early days of Surrealism, Nez et fauteuil shows the influence of both philosophies on Arp’s work, and is a powerful example of his work in this medium.
Shortly after its execution, Nez et fauteuil was acquired by Max Ernst, in whose collection it remained for several decades. Ernst loaned the work for Arp's first one-man show, held at Galerie Surréaliste in Paris in 1927. In the exhibition catalogue André Breton wrote: '... un nez est parfaitement à sa place à côté d'un fauteuil...'.
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