“Sculpture to be Lost in the Forest,” Jean Arp. 1932, cast c.1953–8
JEAN ARP | In the 1920s and 1930s, Jean Arp developed a type of biomorphic sculpture that suggested a parallel between artistic creativity and creation in nature. The shapes in his work evoke worn pebbles, buds and other natural forms. He created these sculptures using a quasi-automatic process of sanding away at a plaster model until he was satisfied with the shape. ‘I work until enough of my life has flowed into its body’, he said. His efforts to link his work with nature included placing sculptures in the forest near his home at Meudon, where they could be discovered by unsuspecting passers-by.
Arp usually created his sculptures in plaster, sanding away until he found the satisfying shape, and thought up the titles only when the work was complete. This sculpture, a bronze cast of an earlier plaster form, resembles a configuration of heavy objects: boulders, sacks, or figures on a bed. Rooted in Arp’s lifelong fascination with the physiological processes of growth and death, the work’s title strongly suggests some sort of landscape, but evokes multiple associations that shift as one looks at the work.
This is exactly how the artist wanted it.
Like Duchamp and others in the Dada circle, Arp believed that the viewer completes the work of art. “Sculpture to be Lost in the Forest” is a prime example of Arp’s ability to balance abstraction with allusion. His forms are constantly in flux and morphing, sometimes toward and sometimes beyond recognition. (source: TATE)
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