Jean Arp

(French, 1886-1966. Lived in Switzerland 1959-66)

Arp was a founding member of the first Dada group that coalesced in Zurich in 1916 around the Cabaret Voltaire of Hugo Ball, the poet and performer. "Dada," wrote Arp, "wished to destroy the hoaxes of reason and to discover an unreasoned order." While this work is far less violent than some of the rhetoric of Dada, Arp's use of serendipitous composition here embodies what has been called the heart of Dada practice: the gratuitous


Collage with Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance. (1916-17)

Torn-and-pasted paper on blue-gray paper.
 This particular collage is unusual in using torn paper, a method that Arp fully developed only in the 1930s. The "law of chance" was discovered when Arp tore up a failed drawing and was struck by the pattern it made on the floor. 


Abstract Composition (1915), wood relief construction