Arman  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Arman (November 17, 1928 - October 22, 2005), was a French-born American artist. Born Armand Pierre Fernandez in Nice, France, Arman is a painter who moved from using the objects as paintbrushes ("allures d'objet") to using them as the painting itself. He is best known for his "accumulations" and destruction/recomposition of objects.

Biography

Arman's father, Antonio Fernandez, an antiques dealer in Nice, was also an amateur artist and photographer, as well as a 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 Ecole Nationale d'Art Decoratif in Nice. He also began learning Judo at a police Judo School in Nice where he met the artists Yves Klein and Claude Pascal. The trio would bond closely on a subsequent hitchhiking tour of the nations of 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, Arman became a teacher at the Bushido Kai Judo School. During this time he also served in the French military, completing his tour of duty as a medical orderly during the Indo-Chinese War.

Early in the development of his career, it was apparent that Arman's concept of the accumulation of vast quantities of the same objects was to remain a significant component of his art. Ironically, Arman had originally focused more attention on his abstract paintings, considering them to be of more consequence than his early accumulations of postage stamps. Only when he witnessed viewer reaction to the accumulation did he fully realize the power of such art.

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 Clerc in 1958, Arman unveiled his accumulation pieces: "les cachets". These stamps on paper and fabric were to prove a success and were to provide an important change of course for the young artist’s career. At this time Arman, who was signing with his first name as an homage to Van Gogh chose to change the spelling of his name from Armand to Arman. It was around this time that Arman’s work began its most serious evolution, beginning with his two most renowned concepts: "Accumulation" and "Poubelle". Accumulations were collections of identical every day objects in Plexiglas or glass cases. 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 contrepoint 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, together with Arman, Yves Klein, François Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, Martial Raysse, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely and Jacques Villeglé, the art critic and philosopher Pierre Restany founded the group Nouveaux Réalistes, 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 home. During this period, Arman 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 music instruments or bronze statues.

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 his 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 & white reel. Warhol owned two of Arman's Poubelles and another accumulation called Amphetamines, which were put up for sale at Sotheby's auction of the Andy Warhol Collection in May 1988.

Enamored with the scene in New York, Arman took up residency in the city, just after his first exhibition at the Cordier Ekstrom. In 1973 he would become an American citizen. In New York, first at the Chelsea Hotel, and later at his more official studios, Arman began work on ever increasingly ambitious projects. There were varied expansions of the Accumulations, their content included tools, watches, clocks, furniture, automobile parts, jewelry, and, of course, music instruments in various stages of dismemberment. Musical instruments, specifically the strings and the brass, would come to form a major constituent of Arman’s oeuvre.

Of Arman's accumulations, one of the largest is Long Term Parking, which is on permanent display at the Chateau de Montcel in Jouy-en-Josas, France. Completed in 1982, the sculpture is an eighteen-meter high accumulation of sixty automobiles embedded in over forty thousand pounds of concrete. Just as ambitious was the 1995 work Hope for Peace, which was specially commissioned by the Lebanese government to commemorate fifty years of the Lebanese military’s service. Standing in once war-torn Beirut, the thirty-two meter monument consists of eighty-three tanks and military vehicles.

Arman married in 1953 to the electronic music composer Eliane Radigue (two daughters, Marion, 1951 and Anne 1953, and one son Yves Arman 1954, deceased in 1989). He then married in 1971, Corice Canton (one son, Philippe 1987, one daughter, Yasmine 1982). His sixth and last child, Yves Cesar, was born outside marriage in 1989.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Arman" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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