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Feuilles IV / Blätter IV (Leaves IV)

1930
Wood
19 x 34 cm / 7 1/2 x 13 3/8 in
Verso, signed, dated and titled

Hans Arp

Hans Arp is a familiar figure of classical Modernism and was a key contributor in the development of Dada and Surrealism in the early twentieth century. Focusing his attention on everyday objects, Arp created his own unique ‘object language’ using a nonsensical vocabulary: plate, fork, knife, clock, tie, moustache, lips, breasts. With a playful hand he juggled the dominant art currents of the early twentieth century, combining seemingly contradictory geometric and organic formal idioms with the artistic ‘-isms’ of his epoch.

Feuilles IV / Blätter IV (Leaves IV), 1930

Testament to Hans Arp’s elegant visual language, ‘Feuilles IV / Blätter IV (Leaves IV)’ (1930) evokes the quiet poetry of the organic world while representing a pivotal moment in the artist’s practice as he shifted from relief works, which he had begun in 1914, to sculpture in the round—both of which remained benchmarks of his practice for the duration of his career. Consisting of fluidly cut wooden amoeba-like forms set in relief, ‘Leaves IV’ demonstrates the artist’s fascination with the way in which biology invisibly yet perceptibly dictates our existence. [1] Conveyed through eucalyptus blue and black painted biomorphic elements hovering before a circular cloud-white background, the painted surface of ‘Leaves IV’ paradoxically belies its wooden construction. In this way, this relief epitomizes Arp’s unique aesthetic, synthesizing Abstraction and Surrealism. His expression, derived from years among the Zurich Dada artists, was founded on the laws of nature and chance, further enriched by the fluidity of automatist renderings and readings of form.

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Celebrating Basel Basel

Basel played an important role in Hans Arp’s life and work. As early as 1932 and 1944, he was a part of the group exhibitions at Kunsthalle Basel, alongside Serge Brignoni and Kurt Seligmann. Later, his interest in architecture culminated in the 1960 public sculpture ‘Betonstele Colonne aux éléments interchangeables’ at Allgemeine Gewerbeschule Basel. Arp’s freestanding, edifice-like relief simultaneously created barriers and passages.

Master of 20th Century Sculpture

Over a period of more than sixty years, Arp produced an extraordinarily influential body of work that shifts fluidly between abstraction and representation, and between organic and geometric forms. Take a closer a look at the life and work of this 20th-century master, with insights from Nasher Sculpture Center curator Catherine Craft, Gerhard Marcks Haus director Arie Hartog, and Loretta Würtenberger, director of The Institute for Artists’ Estates.