Artist biography

American sculptor and collector of French birth. He lived in Nice until 1949, studying there at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs from 1946 and in 1947 striking up a friendship with Yves Klein, with whom he was later closely associated in the Nouveau réalisme movement. In 1949 he moved to Paris, where he studied at the Ecole du Louvre and where in an exhibition in 1954 he discovered the work of Kurt Schwitters, which led him to reject the lyrical abstraction of the period.

Arman's willingness to embrace chance was indicated by his decision in 1958 to change his name in accordance with a printing error, having already stopped using his surname in 1947. The attitude was consistent with that of his work, which by the late 1950s had moved away from traditional painting and sculpture in favour of the object and specifically of the ready-made.

He soon widened his vocabulary by choosing both to cut the objects into thin strips, revealing their internal structure, and to destroy them violently during Rages held in public as a kind of performance art. Arman's ill-treatment of objects, especially in his early work, was due less to a systematically destructive will than to a desire to provoke new aesthetic effects.

From the mid 1960s Arman made numerous visits to New York, taking American citizenship in 1972. He broadened his imagery to include tools while remaining faithful above all to objects symbolising the excesses of the consumer society.

O. Hahn: Arman (Paris, 1972)
H. Martin: Arman (New York, 1973)
Arman, Parade der Objekte (exh. cat., Hannover, Sprengel Mus., 1982)
J. van der Marck: Arman (New York, 1984)
1960: Les Nouveaux Réalistes (exh. cat. by B. Cotenson and others, Paris, Mus. A. Mod. Ville Paris, 1986)


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