Arman (November 17, 1928 – October 22, 2005) was a French-born American artist. Born Armand Fernandez in Nice, France, Arman was a painter who moved from using objects for the ink or paint traces they leave ("cachet", "allures d'objet") to using them as the painting itself. He is best known for his "accumulations" and destruction/recomposition of objects.
Arman's father, Antonio Fernandez, an antiques dealer from Nice, was additionally an amateur artist, photographer, and cellist. From his father, Arman learned oil painting and photography. After receiving his bachelor's degree in philosophy and mathematics in 1946, Arman began studying at the École Nationale des Arts Décoratifs in Nice. He additionally started judo at a police school in Nice where he met Yves Klein and Claude Pascal. The trio bonded closely on a subsequent hitch-hiking tour around Europe.
Completing his studies in 1949, Arman enrolled as a student at the École du Louvre in Paris, where he concentrated on the study of archaeology and oriental art. In 1951, he became a teacher at the Bushido Kai Judo Club in Madrid. During this time he additionally served in the French military, completing his tour of duty as a medical orderly throughout the Indo-China War.
Early on, it was obvious that Arman's concept of the accumulation of vast quantities of the same objects was to remain a significant component of his art. Ironically, he'd originally focused more attention on his abstract paintings, considering them to be of more consequence than his early accumulations of stamps. Only when he witnessed viewer reaction to his first accumulation in 1959 did he fully recognise the power of such art. In 1962, he began welding together accumulations of the same kinds of metal objects, such as axes (as pictured below).
Inspiration and name change
Inspired by an exhibition for the German Dadaist Kurt Schwitters in 1954, Arman began working on "Cachets," his first major artistic undertaking. At his third solo exhibition held in Paris's Galerie Iris Clert in 1958, Arman showed a few of his first 2D accumulations he called "cachets." These stamps on paper and fabric proved a success and provided an important change of course for the young artist's career.
At the time, he was signing with his first name as an homage to Van Gogh, who additionally signed his works with his first name, "Vincent." And, thus, in 1957, Arman chose to change his name from Armand to Arman. On January 31, 1973, upon fitting a citizen of the United States, he took the American civil name, Armand Pierre Arman. Nevertheless, he continued to use "Arman" as his public persona.
Evolution of work
From 1959 to 1962, Arman developed his most recognisable style, beginning with his two most renowned concepts: "Accumulation" and "Poubelle" (French for "trash bin"). Accumulations were collections of common and identical objects which he arranged in polyester castings or within Plexiglas cases. His first welded accumulations were created in 1962.
The "Poubelles" were collections of strewn refuse. In 1960, he filled the Galerie Iris Clert in Paris with garbage, creating "Le Plein" ("Full Up") as a counterpoint of the exhibition called "Le Vide" at the same gallery two years earlier by his friend Yves Klein. These works began to garner the attention of the European art community.
In October 1960, Arman, Yves Klein, François Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, Martial Raysse, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely and Jacques Villeglé, and art critic and philosopher Pierre Restany founded the Nouveau réalisme group. Joined later by Cesar, Mimmo Rotella, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Christo, the group of young artists defined themselves as bearing in common their "new perspective approaches of reality." They were reassessing the concept of art and the artist for a 20th-century consumer society by reasserting the humanistic ideals in the face of industrial expansion.
In 1961, Arman made his debut in the United States, the country which was to become his second home. During this period, he explored creation via destruction. The "Coupes" and the "Colères" featured sliced, burned, or smashed objects arranged on canvas, often using objects with a strong "identity" such as musical instruments (mainly violins and saxophones) or bronze statues.
Arman and Warhol
Arman can be seen in Andy Warhol's film Dinner at Daley's, a documentation of a dinner performance by the Fluxus artist Daniel Spoerri that Warhol filmed on March 5, 1964. Throughout the portrait-screen-test film, Arman sits in profile, looking down, appearing to be entranced in his reading, seemingly unaware of Warhol's camera, only making small gestures, rubbing his eyes, and licking the corner of his mouth. He remained silent, eyes gazing over the pages of what seemed to be a newspaper, in this four-minute, 16mm black-and-white reel. Warhol owned two of Arman's Poubelles and another accumulation called Amphetamines, which were sold at Sotheby's auction of the Andy Warhol Collection in May 1988.
Move to New York City
Fascinated with the scene in New York, Arman took up part-time residency there from his home in Nice in 1961, after his first exhibition at the Cordier Warren Gallery. In the city, he met Marcel Duchamp at a dinner given by the artist and collector William Copley. First living at the Chelsea Hotel and later in Church street while keeping a studio in Bowery, then in TriBeCa, Arman began work on large public sculptures. There were varied expansions of the accumulations. Their content included tools, watches, clocks, furniture, automobile parts, jewelry, and, of course, musical instruments in various stages of dismemberment. Musical instruments, specifically the strings and bronze, through his collaboration with a foundry in Normandy, France, became a major avenue in Arman's work.
Of Arman's accumulations, one of the largest is Long Term Parking, which is on permanent display at the Château de Montcel in Jouy-en-Josas, France. Completed in 1982, the sculpture is an 18-meter (60-ft.) high accumulation of 60 automobiles embedded in over 18,000 kg (40,000 lbs.) of concrete. Just as ambitious was the 1995 work Hope for Peace, which was specially commissioned by the Lebanese government to commemorate 50 years of the Lebanese military's service. Standing in once war-torn Beirut, the 32-meter (105-ft.) monument consists of 83 tanks and military vehicles.
In 1953, Arman married electronic music composer Eliane Radigue and had two daughters, Marion (1951) and Anne (1953) and one son, Yves Arman (1954–1989). In 1971, he married Corice Canton, with whom he'd one daughter, Yasmine (1982) and one son, Philippe (1987). In 1989, he'd his sixth and last child, Yves Cesar Arman, son of Carrole Cesar.
After Arman's death in New York in 2005, part of his ashes were buried at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris in 2008.
Selected exhibitions and awards
- Arman, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Holland
- Arman, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Arman, Museum Hans Lange, Krefeld, Germany
- Arman, Palais de Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium
- Arman, Musée de la Ville, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France
- Arman, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Italy
Arman: Accummulations Renault(traveling exhibition);
- Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Holland
- Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, France; *Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
- Humlebaek, Denmark; *Kunsthalle, Berlin, Germany; *Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, Germany
- Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; *Städtische Kuntsammlungen, Ludwigshafen, Germany
- Kunsthaus, Zürich, Switzerland; *Amos Anderson Taidemuseo, Helsinki, Helsingfors, Finland
- Arman, Modern Art Museum, Stockholm, Sweden
- Arman, Salles romanes du Cloître Saint-Trophime, Musée Réattu, Arles, France
- Arman: Selected Works 1958-1974, La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, California; *Fort Worth Art Museum, Texas
- Arman: Objets Armés 1971-1974, Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France
- Arman, Artcurial auction house, Paris, France
- Arman: Paintings and Sculptures, Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita State University, Kansas
- Arman, Veranneman Foundation, Kruishoutem, Belgium
- Arman: Rétrospective, Centre d'Art et de Culture, Flaine, France
- Arman, Veranneman Foundation, Kruishoutem, Belgium
- Arman, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, Germany
- Arman: Parade der Objekte: Retrospektive 1955-1982, *Kuntsmuseum, Sammlung Sprengel, Hanover, Germany; *Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, Germany; *Tel Aviv Museum, Israel; *Kuntshalle, Tübingen, Germany; *Musée Picasso, Château Grimaldi, Antibes, France; *Musée d'Art Contemporain Dunkerque, France
- Arman o L’Oggetto come Alfabeto: Retrospettiva 1955-1984, Museo Civico delle Belle Arti, Lugano, Switzerland
- Arman, Museo d'Arte Moderna, Parma, Italy
- Arman, Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan; Walker Hill Art Center, Seoul, Korea
- Arman Aujourd’hui, Musée de Toulon, France
- Arman: Retrospective, Wichita State University, Ulrich Museum of Art, Kansas
- Arman, Veranneman Foundation, Kruishoutem, Belgium
- Arman in Italy, Fondazione Mudima, Milan, Italy
- Arman Sculpture, Contemporary Sculpture Center, Tokyo, Japan
- Arman: A Retrospective 1955 - 1991, The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York; The Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, Michigan
- Il Giro di Arman, Associazione Culturale Italo-Francese, Bologna, Italy
- Le Ceramica di Arman, Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche in Faenza, Faenze, Italy
- Arman, Musée Royal de Mariemont, Mariemont-Chapelle, Belgium
- Arman: The Exhibition of International Sculpture Master, Modern Art Gallery, Taichung, Taïwan
- Arman, Musée du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France
- Arman, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel
- Arman, Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, São Paulo, Brazil
- Arman—20 stations de l'objet, Couvent des Cordeliers, Paris, France
- Arman, Fundaciò "la Caixa," Barcelona, Spain
- Arman, la traversée des objets, Palazzo delle Zitelle, Venice, Italy
- Arman, Museo de Monterrey, Mexico
- Arman, National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan
- Arman: Werke auf Papier, Ludwig Museum, Coblenz, Germany
- Arman: Through and Across Objects, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida
- Arman: Works on Paper, Villa Haiss Museum, Zell, Germany
- Awarded 2003 Sport Artist of the Year, The American Sport Art Museum and Archives, United States Sports Academy, Daphne, Alabama
- Arman: Arman, Museum of Contemporary Art of Teheran, Teheran, Iran
- Arman, Marlborough New York City
- Omaggio ad Arman Arte Silva, Sergno
- Arman—Peinture, Marlborough Monaco, Monaco
- Hommage a Arman, Galerie Anne Lettree, Paris
- Arman—Subida al Cielo, Musée d' Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain Nice, France
- Arman—A Tribute to Arman, Marlborough Gallery, New York
- Arman—No Comment, Galerie Georges-Phillippe & Nathalie Vallois, Paris
- Arman, Palazzo Bricherasio, Turin
- Arman, a retrospective, Centre Georges Pompidou, Oct. 2010, Paris
- Arman, retrospectve, Museum Tinguely, Feb. 2011, Basel, Switzerland
- Arman-in les Baux de Provence, July-Oct. 2011, Les Baux-de-Provence
- Cycles, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York
Public collections in the U.S.A., selected
- Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California
- Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
- Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita, Kansas
- Harvard Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts
- The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan
- Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis, Missouri
- Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri
- Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri
- Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York
- The Museum of Modern Art, New York
- Allen Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio
- Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, Washington
- Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida
Books about Arman
- Chalumeau, Jean-Luc and Pierre Restany (preface), Arman: Shooting Colors, Paris, France: Éditions de la Différence, Autre Musée/Grandes Monographies, 1989
- Kuspit, Donald. Monochrome Accumulations 1986—1989. Stockholm: A. H. Graphik, 1990
- Otmezguine, Jane and Marc Moreau, in collaboration with Corice Arman. Estampes. Paris: Éditions Marval, 1990
- Durand-Ruel, Denyse. Arman - Vol. II: 1960 à 1962. Paris: Éditions de la Différence, 1991
- Durand-Ruel, Denyse. Arman - Vol. III: 1963 à 1965. Paris: Éditions de la Différence, 1994
- Bouhours, Jean-Michel (director), Arman exhibition catalogue, Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 2010