Luxembourg & Dayan’s London space on Savile Row will be transformed into a fantastical petit salon devoted to Jean Hans Arp, the French-German sculptor, painter, collagist, poet and pioneer of abstract art who was a founding member of the Dada movement. Arp is Art is the first London exhibition to focus exclusively on the artist since his death in 1966. It will feature works from private and museum collections, most of which have not been shown publicly in decades.
Arp is Art presents approximately 20 objects - paper and painted wood collages, ink drawings, oil paintings, bronze sculpture and embroidery, with a particular focus on the Dadaist period. Made between 1914 and 1959, the works on view reveal the exquisite originality and continued relevance of an artist who changed the way that art is both made and perceived. These works will be shown in an intimate setting together with poems that figured centrally in Arp’s far-ranging practice. The Stiftung Hans Arp und Sophie Taeuber-Arp e.V, Rolandswerth, the German foundation which protects and administers the artist’s estate, has loaned an important early work for this presentation.
Arp is Art focuses on the years following the artist’s move from Paris to Switzerland.. It was in Zürich in 1916 that Arp joined with such colleagues as Hugo Ball, Marcel Janko, Tristan Tzara and other denizens of the Cabaret Voltaire to launch Dada. One of the first large-scale movements to translate art into provocative action, Dada produced some of the most antibourgeois, antirational, anarchic, playful works to come out of the 20th century.
The title of Luxembourg & Dayan’s exhibition is inspired by the closing sentence of The art of Jean Arp, Sir Herbert Read’s seminal monograph: “Arp is an artist who influences art itself rather than individual artists.” The dramatic events of World War I so shocked Arp and his peers that they sought a complete departure from traditional methods of artistic production - an unqualified rejection of accepted formalism in painting, sculpture, works on paper and poetry. Through Dada, Arp engaged in a completely new strategy of artmaking that emphasized innovation, free association, mixing of mediums, writing and outrageous performances, and deep and total disregard for all conventional modes of creation combined with a passionate curiosity for the world around him.
While he prefigured junk art and the Fluxus movement in his incorporation of waste material into works, it was through his investigation of biomorphism and of chance and accident that Arp proved especially influential to later generations in liberating unconscious creative forces. By wedding concept and craft, Arp’s work with embroidery, collage, assemblage, montage, ready-mades and sculpture unlocked previously unknown and unimagined artistic practices that have proven to be absolutely vital to the development of Contemporary Art.