Hans (Jean) Arp
79 x 15 x 9 cm (31 1/8 x 6 x 3 1/2 in.)
edition of 5 + 1 with monogram, numbered 0/5 and with foundry mark 'H. Noack, Berlin'
In his late work, the motif of the torso gained special importance in Arp’s work again. As in his earlier sculptures, the notion of torso is more of an association of the human body than a depiction of it in the classical sense of the term. Arp maintains his principle of metamorphosis of forms in these sculptures that seem to be an emerging organism and have an element of growth in their structure and appearance. Melting the forms of a body (torso) and a vessel (vase) combines these two aspects: but there is no indication which one of the two grows into the other, or if this metamorphosis is reversible, ongoing or oscillating – a state of formal possibility before determination, which is at the center of Arp’s artistic language. The sculpture is a vessel on the one hand, which means it is ready to receive and contain whatever the imagination of the viewer mentally fills in, and on the other hand, it is a body of its own, a growing, even living structure. Its organic shapes imply the impression of movement, and at the same time Arp includes an ambivalence of material as the visual aspect gives both the idea of a soft surface and of a solid, hard metal object. Finally, Arp recurs to the classical concept of corpus quasi vas – the body is like a vessel for the immaterial soul and, in this perspective, allows to realize the existence of a spiritual world beyond the material surface of things.