French abstract sculptor, collagist, engraver and poet. Born at Strasbourg. Studied at the Ecole des Arts et Métiers, Strasbourg, at the Weimar Academy and briefly in Paris at the Académie Julian in 1908. Spent the next years mainly in Switzerland, at Weggis, working in isolation. Made his first abstract works in 1910 or 1911. In 1912 met Sonia and Robert Delaunay in Paris, and Kandinsky and the artists of the Blue Rider group in Munich. Co-founder of the Dada movement with Tristan Tzara and Hugo Ball in Zurich in 1916, and continued working on the same lines with Ernst in Cologne 1919-20. Made abstract collages and painted wood reliefs, and published poems in French and German. Lived mainly in Paris from 1920, married Sophie Tauber in 1922 and settled with her at Meudon 1927. Participated in the Surrealist movement (having his first one-man exhibition at the Galerie Surréaliste, Paris, 1927), and made reliefs with poetic configurations and experimented with chance arrangements. Developed from relief-sculpture to sculpture in the round in 1930-1 and from then on sought a concrete art: sculptures which identify themselves with natural forms, without description or imitation. Member of Abstraction-Création 1931. Awarded the main sculpture prize at the 1954 Venice Biennale and one of the two equal main sculpture prizes at the 1964 Pittsburgh International. Died in Basle.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.21