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?
drops from infinity.
One dream-cloud after another
rises toward infinity.
—Jean Arp, Gislebertus of Autun, 1962
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