PARIS.- The Centre Pompidou
is to stage a retrospective devoted to Arman, one of the major figures of post-War art. The exhibition will bring together almost 120 works from leading museums and private collections to offer a new and distinctive take on Armans work, from the second half of the 1950s to the last years of the 20th century.
A founder member of the Nouveaux Réalistes, a group that championed new perceptual approaches to the real, Arman developed a body of work intimately related to its own age, taking as its artistic material the manufactured products of the consumer society. In a presentation both lively and educational, the exhibition will highlight the two fundamental features of Armans work: the gesture, inherited from the practice of the martial arts, (through an exceptional selection of filmed records of the artists actions), and the object as vector of new artistic forms. The presentation is organised around seven themes that reflect Armans major artistic problematics, testifying to the originality and the evident contemporary relevance of his work.
I started as a painter
I had a physical, practical need to physically touch the paint. I found this system of capturing the paint as it comes from the tube, fixing it in Plexiglas or polyester resin it becomes an object. Paint becomes object. I had lots of fun with that. I made monochrome works, and others very colourful: I remade the painter. Arman, Larchéologie du futur interview with Daniel Abadie, (Cat. Jeu de Paume, 1998)
The artist was indeed a painter by training, but by 1955 he had abandoned the brush for the stamp, applying it to the surface of paper or canvas with automatic gesture. Influenced by great figures of the earlier avant-gardes, among them Schwitters, Picasso and Nikolaas Werkman (a typographer close to De Stijl), Arman would in 1958 also incorporate the large format and allover composition of American Abstract Expressionism into his own artistic language.
In 1957, while in close contact with the concrete music milieu, Arman began to use objects covered in paint that left the trace of their passage across the canvas: these were the Allures dobjets, the Gait of Objects works. In the course of these researches the object gradually began to impose itself within the pictorial frame, more particularly through the quantitative. From then on, the artist made the object part of his process of creation, seeing it as a plastic fact. The notorious Poubelles (Trashcans) thus present rubbish as an art material, locating Arman within a decisively post-modern approach.
To accompany the Arman exhibition, the Centres Childrens Gallery will offer an interactive workshop for children of three years and upwards, organised around aspects of the artists work. Object and gesture will serve as key themes, bringing together Armans artistic innovation with the sensuous experience of the child. Absorbed in this poetical and contemporary factory conceived by artist-designer Adrien Rovero, children will be able to explore together, through their own senses, the distinctive techniques that Arman uses (the stamp, the transsection of objects, the photofit), bringing a fresh eye to bear on the world around them.