DALLAS, Texas (May 29, 2018)— The Nasher Sculpture Center announces The Nature of Arp, a long-overdue look at the achievements of Jean (Hans) Arp (1886- 1966), one of the most important and multifaceted artists of the modern era. The exhibition will be on view September 15, 2018 – January 6, 2019.
The Nature of Arp will present a compelling new look at an artist whose experimental approach to creation, radical rethinking of traditional art forms, and collaborative proclivities resonate with the wide-ranging character of art today. Over a career spanning more than six decades, Arp produced a remarkably influential body of work in a rich variety of materials and formats. A founder of the Dada movement and pioneer of abstraction, he developed a vocabulary of curving, organic forms that moved fluidly between abstraction and representation and became a common point of reference for several generations of artists.
Bringing together more than 80 objects, including sculptures in plaster, wood, bronze, and stone, painted wood reliefs, collages, drawings, textiles, and illustrated books, The Nature of Arp will include works drawn from prominent U.S. and European museums, foundations, and private collections. Significant loans include the earliest documented Dada relief, Plant-Hammer (1917; Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Netherlands); all three of the artist’s surviving multipart works of the early 1930s, innovative reconceptions of sculptural form that rejected the pedestal and encouraged viewers to interact with movable elements (from the collections of Tate Modern, London; the Muse´e d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Strasbourg; and the Museum Jorn, Silkeborg); and a group of works made in collaboration with his wife, the artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp, including their joint wood sculpture, Marital Sculpture (1937; Stiftung Arp, Berlin/Rolandswerth).
“It is with keen enthusiasm that we present this in-depth reappraisal of the extraordinary work of Jean (Hans) Arp, one of the key figures of the modern era,” says Director Jeremy Strick. “Celebrating his contributions to notions of artistic flexibility, invention, and conceptual rigor is sure to prompt reflection on the legacy of his talent, as well as encourage fresh thinking about what it means to lead a creative life at this moment.”
According to the exhibition’s curator, Nasher Sculpture Center Curator Catherine Craft, “It’s a tremendous privilege to present Arp’s astoundingly inventive and varied works. Often, people know one aspect of his art—his achievements as a sculptor, or his participation in a movement like Dada or Surrealism—but experiencing the full range of his achievements reveals an artist of protean creativity. Art of the last century is unthinkable without him, and his commitment to moving between different languages, cultures, and communities today appears more timely than ever.”
The title The Nature of Arp reflects in part the special role accorded to nature in Arp’s work. Disillusioned by the destructiveness of World War I, Arp rejected traditional approaches to making art—especially art that claimed to imitate the appearance of nature—and instead sought creative strategies analogous to processes found in nature, such as growth, gravity, decay, and chance. In nature, Arp saw a force wiser and more constructive than the human arrogance that was so frequently the target of his absurdist humor.