Jean Arp was born Hans Arp on September 16, 1886, in Strasbourg. He studied art there and then in Weimar, Germany and also in Paris in 1908.
Jean Arp was involved with many art movements in his early life, including the abstract method of expressionist Kandinsky (he exhibited in his Der Blaue Reiter exhibitions in Munich) and also Cubism. During the Great war Arp moved to Zurich and became involved in the birth of Dadaism. During this period Arp produced his first collages of torn paper and also his painted wood reliefs which used the method of chance rather than design. This was achieved by allowing the paper to fall onto the canvas and gluing them where they fell.
Surrealism and metamorphism
When Dadaism ended in 1919, Arp joined the surrealists. In 1925 he participated in the first Surrealist exhibition in Paris. His work was characterised by its organic, metamorphic shapes which seemed to mimic the twists and forms of nature and growth. Indeed, the term biomorphic is often used to describe Arp's work. His preferred medium was bronze or wood. His works Head and Shell
and Metamorphosis: Shell-Swan
are indicative of his work with nature. He said of these works "Each of these bodies has a definite significance, but it is only when I feel there is nothing more to change that I decide what each means, and it is only then that I give it a name." After leaving the Surrealists in 1931, Arp's work became more geometric. He continued his shift through movements by becoming a founder member of Abstract-Creation.
Jean Hans Arp died in 1966 in Basel.