Image of Jean (Hans) Arp, "Shell and Head", 1933, a plaster sculpture on a podium.

Nasher Sculpture Center Announces the Acquisition of 24 Artworks by Jean (Hans) Arp

The museum receives the most significant gift since its founding

DALLAS, Texas (June 2, 2023) – The Nasher Sculpture Center announces the acquisition of 24 sculptures by French-German artist Jean (Hans) Arp gifted by the sculptor’s foundation, Stiftung Arp e.V. Comprised of works in plaster and bronze, the acquisition is the most important in the museum’s 20-year history, establishing the Nasher as a center for Arp studies along with nine other museums worldwide.

“The Nasher is overjoyed to add these exquisite sculptures to our collection,” says director Jeremy Strick. “It is an honor to receive such a gift, joining institutions around the world in furthering the scholarship and legacy of Arp, whose work indelibly shaped modern art and the collection at the Nasher.”

Jean (Hans) Arp was a pivotal artist for the Nasher Sculpture Center prior to the gift from Stiftung Arp. Torso with Buds—a 1961 bronze—was the first piece of modern sculpture collected by Raymond and Patsy Nasher, the museum’s founders, sparking one of the finest collections of sculpture in the world. In 2018 Nasher curator Dr. Catherine Craft curated The Nature of Arp, the first North American museum exhibition dedicated to the artist in 30 years, which later traveled to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice in 2019.

“The sculptures we’ve received essentially form an Arp retrospective in miniature, and they offer a wonderful view into his creative process,” says Dr. Craft. “Arp’s significance to modern sculpture through his development of an abstract visual language of flowing, organic forms is on ample display in these works.”

Jean (Hans) Arp (1886-1966) produced within his versatile practice a vast body of biomorphic sculptures made of plaster, bronze, and stone. Plaster played an integral role in his art. Arp created most of his sculptures in plaster, and once he considered a sculpture to be complete, he would often make multiple plaster casts that could serve different functions. Like many artists, he used such casts as reference for bronze or marble versions of works, including enlargements, but they also became sources of inspiration for new compositions, as Arp would routinely cut plasters apart and reconfigure them to generate completely new works. With these malleable pieces, Arp innovated his practice, integrating chance and spontaneity into his curvilinear sculptures. Though Arp exhibited his plasters, he never made a practice of selling them—a sentiment maintained by his second wife, Marguerite Arp-Hagenbach, who eventually established three foundations devoted to Arp’s work, and ensured they never went to market.

Because Arp began casting his sculptures in bronze relatively late in his life, at the time of his death in 1966, a number of the editions were still incomplete. Arp-Hagenbach created a casting rights list to fill those editions; the bulk of Arp’s plasters have been retained in the Stiftung Arp, which also controls the casting rights of the bronzes. Now, with authorized posthumous casting of Arp’s sculptures almost complete, Stiftung Arp is dispensing its collection of plasters and its archive to institutions across the globe, establishing a new model of international, cooperative research—the first of its kind for an artist’s estate.

Other initial museums receiving works include Museum Beelden aan Zee, The Hague, The Netherlands; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA, US; Skissernas Museum, Lund, Sweden; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo, Norway; Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, Rolandseck, Germany; The Hepworth Wakefield, UK; ALBERTINA, Vienna, Austria; Gerhard-Marcks-Haus Bremen, Germany. The works being given focus on a range of plasters and bronzes from 1933 to 1966, many of which have never been shown to the public before. The group of plasters assigned to the Nasher contains four from the 1930s; two from the 1940s; six from the 1950s; and nine from the 1960s, in addition to three bronzes made between 1958 and 1965.

This acquisition is a gift from Stiftung Arp e.V., Berlin.

About Jean (Hans) Arp:

Born a German citizen in the politically fraught region of Alsace, between France, Germany, and Switzerland in 1886, Jean (Hans) Arp studied art in Strasbourg, Weimar, and Paris. During World War I, he fled to Zurich, Switzerland, where he cofounded the Dada movement. After spending several years after the war with his national identity in limbo as Alsace again became part of France, Arp became a French citizen and relocated with his wife, the artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp, to Paris. Throughout the 1920s and the 1930s, he associated with an international array of artists and writers, including the Surrealists and the abstract artists’ groups Cercle et Carré (Circle and Square) and Abstraction-Création; he was also highly respected as a poet in both German and French. In the early 1930s, he began to make sculpture in the round, which became a major means of creative expression for him, especially after World War II. After the fall of Paris to Nazi Germany in 1940, Arp and Taeuber-Arp fled first to southern France and then, when they were unable to attain visas for emigration to the United States, to Switzerland, where Taeuber-Arp died in 1943. After World War II, Arp became especially celebrated for his sculptures, for which he won the sculpture prize of the 1954 Venice Biennale. Arp died on June 7, 1966, in Basel; his second wife, Marguerite Arp-Hagenbach, eventually founded three foundations devoted to Arp’s, as well as Taeuber-Arp’s, work: Stiftung Arp, e.V., Berlin/Rolandswerth; Fondation Arp, Clamart; and Fondazione Marguerite Arp, Locarno. In 2018, the Nasher Sculpture Center presented The Nature of Arp, the first major U.S. exhibition devoted to his work in three decades, which subsequently traveled to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, in 2019.

Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora Street
Dallas, Texas 75201
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