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Arp developed a distinctive repertoire of abstracted shapes for his sculptural reliefs. The same motifs, repeated from work to work, were intended as a kind of ‘object language’. One of these symbols was the moustache, which Arp associated with pomposity. A common affectation of figures of authority, the moustache embodied the spirit of bourgeois stupidity that had precipitated the First World War. It was only around the time of making this work that the German-born Arp secured his French nationality, having been stateless since refusing to fight in the war.

July 2008