Jean Arp (Hans Arp)

Torn-Up Woodcut

1920–54

Artist
Jean Arp (Hans Arp) 1886–1966
Original title
Bois déchiré
Medium
Wood engraving on paper on board
Dimensions
Unconfirmed: 213 x 165 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Mr and Mrs Robert Lewin through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1970
Reference
T01219

On loan to: Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo, The Netherlands)

Exhibition: Arp: The Poetry of Forms

Display caption

Arp felt that he could incorporate chance within artistic production, comparing the role of the artist to a plant bearing fruit. According to the Laws of Chance shows Arp playing with random composition, in this case dropping painted pieces of paper onto a surface. Torn Woodcut was made in a similar way in 1954, using the pieces of a Dada print he had made in 1920.

Gallery label, April 2008

Catalogue entry

Jean Arp 1886-1966

T01219 Bois déchiré (Torn-up Woodcut) c.1920/54

Inscribed 'Arp' on back
Wood engraving torn and mounted on card backing, 8 3/4 x 6 1/2 (21.3 x 16.5) on card 10 x 7 5/8 (25.4 x 19.4)
Presented by Mr and Mrs Robert Lewin through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1970
Prov: Private collector, Basle (gift from the artist); Kornfeld und Klipstein sale, Bern, 9-11 June 1966, lot 20 with two other bois déchirés by Arp; bt. Mr and Mrs Robert Lewin (the Brook Street Gallery), London
Repr: The Friends of the Tate Gallery: Annual Report 1st May 1971-30th April 1972 (London 1972), p.15; Simon Wilson, The Surrealists (London 1974), pl.22

In a letter to Robert Lewin of 15 May 1970, Madame Arp records that the starting-point for this work was one of the woodcuts which Arp made for Tristan Tzara's Cinéma calendrier du coeur abstrait published in 1920. He tore it up and reassembled it in about 1954, turning what Carola Giedion-Welcker has called the 'irrationally flowing dreamy forms, which spread out like a moving black web' into a more broken and staccato configuration.

Published in:
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.23, reproduced p.23