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Jean Arp

( Originally Published 1955 )

Alsatian-born Surrealist painter, sculptor and theorist, influential in France, Germany, Switzerland and now the United States. Generally associated with the more abstract aspects of Surrealism (see) and known for the free-form cutouts in overlapping layers of colored wood which he began to use in 1917 under the influence of the "Improvisations" of Kandinsky. Arp's colored wooden forms. however, show a humorous spontaneity and suggestiveness that ally them to the "unexpected" and "surprising" characteristics of Surrealism with its evocations of ideas and shapes. Arp exhibited at the Second Blue Rider graphics show in 1912, worked in Paris for a while and then settled in Zurich in 1915 where he soon helped found the Dada (see) movement and participated in various Dadaist magazines, especially the famous Cabaret Voltaire. In 1919-23 he furthered Dadaism in Germany and after 1925 performed the same function in Paris, where he remained until the fall of France in 1940 drove him to Switzerland. He came to the United States in 1950 under commission from Harvard University for a large-scale mural relief.

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