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Jean (Hans) Arp

French, born Germany (Alsace), 1886–1966

© 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Constellation-Punctuation, 1956

Oil on wood
22 x 35 3/4 x 1 1/2 inches (55.9 x 90.8 x 3.8 cm)
Charles Clifton Fund, 1969

Jean (Hans) Arp created painted wood reliefs all his life. About his inspiration, he said, “The point of departure for a work of art can be provoked by a human being, an animal, a plant, a stone, an old board on which someone has scratched a few lines in passing: it is that ‘in passing’ which signifies the decisive moment, just as for the hunter the decisive moment is the one when he pulls the trigger.” In all of his work, the underlying theme is nature’s cycle of becoming, growth, change, and decay—the constant metamorphosis that occurs in the cycle of life. Arp began exploring the idea of constellations in the early 1930s, starting with a set number of elements and arranging them in different ways to create a certain rhythm and promote a dialogue among the forms. Arp’s use of the word “punctuation” in the title of this work adds a note of humor and perhaps validates our feeling that its forms strongly resemble periods and commas.