Modern & Samtida konst + Design
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Lots to be sold at our Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary Art + Design 8 – 10 November 2023
Regarded to be one of the most intriguing and important artists of modern time, the French born Fernandez Arman has become widely known for his spectacular sculptures and the continuous use of everyday mass-produced items. By many, he is referred to as the leading French counterpart to the American pop art culture that was sweeping through Europe during the 1960s and he became associated with the modernist movement “Nouveau Réalisme”, or “New realism”, which emerged around 1960 in France as a response to the American trend. Today, works of Fernandez Arman has been exhibited in over five hundred one-man shows and his sculptures and paintings can be seen in museums worldwide.
Fernandez Arman, originally born Armand Pierre Fernandez, showed interest in art from an early age. His artistic learning was strongly encouraged by his father’s side of the family and he enrolled in École Nationale d’Art Decoratif in Nice, but decided to drop out due to their traditional beliefs. In 1947 he met Yves Klein for the first time, a contemporary artist who were to become one of his closest life-long friends and a great support in his strive to pursue a career in art. Yves Klein was also one of the artists who collaborated with Arman in the newly formed “Nouveau Réalisme” movement, a group of young artist that bared in common ”new perspective approaches of reality.” Arman and Yves Klein decided to sign their works by only their first name, inspired by Vincent van Gogh who only signed his pieces “Vincent”. However, it was not until 1958 that Arman adopted his name without the last letter due to a printer’s error in an exhibition catalogue for a group show at Galerie Iris Clert.
During this early period in his life, Arman concentrated his works on paintings and especially surrealistic motifs, perhaps not as far from his later works that one might assume. It was only after he had met Kurt Schwitters, famous for his collages and use of everyday headlines, that Arman started to experiment with sculptures. His first solo exhibition in 1956 included so-called “cachets”, a stamp-and-ink technique with rubber stamps, which clearly marked the beginning of a new phase within his artistry. Pointing back to the idea about the readymade formed by Marchel Duchamp; he thought that contemporary sculptures had to confront the commodity and that they should not be crafted by hand anymore but made out of mass-produced items. The repeated use of readymade identical products was further developed in the early 1960s when he began to use trash and plexiglass formed into spectacular creations.
The accumulation of items became significant for Arman’s production from an early stage and several examples are to be seen in this auction. He experimented with various items such as porcelain, colour tubes, paintbrushes and spoons – all reflections of the identical character of modern objects. As seen in several of the lots, he usually gathered the pieces together and displayed them in a glass-fronted case or embedded them in resin or plexiglass. The phenomena of repetition and mass production once again shift the focus from the individual object. ”Macbeth II”, a monumental piece consisting of an accumulation of red paint bottles on plexiglass with running red colour over the glass, is included in this sale. Arman made the first “Macbeth” already in 1966, today regarded as one of the most important works of art within his production as it marks an early version of the larger works of accumulations. Versions of different accumulated items have been made in different sizes throughout his productive years. Relating to the same theme with everyday-objects is also the unique work consisting of paint brushes and acrylic paint mounted on a board. ■