Jean ARP, 1886-1966
L’ami du petit doigt, 1963

Studio plaster. 10,5 x 24 x 15,5 cm.
Provenance: collection of André Mounier, friend and collaborator of Arp.

One (?) example in marble was made from this plaster prototype used for the mise au point (i.e. ‘fine tuning’). The nails breaking the surface are markers that enable the sculptor or his assistant, known as a metteur au point (in this case André Mounier), using a pantograph to mark out exact dimensions on the block of marble to be worked.
There can be no doubt that this is the plaster original. This precious testimony to the genesis of the definitive piece in marble was not intended to be sold.

Jean Arp, sculptor, painter and poet was one of the founders of the Dada movement in 1916. As early as 1915 his research into aesthetics had already led him to abstract and organic form. After marrying Sophie Taeuber, from 1926 to 1928 the couple collaborated with Theo Van Doesburg for the interior décor of the Café l’Aubette at Strasbourg. Arp was awarded the Grand prix for sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1954.

Often, I start working from an old piece, a detail or a line that I haven’t got the most out of… I intensify, I hone: I obtain a new form… Look at this torso for example, I didn’t say to myself: I’m going to make a torso. No, I just set to work in a state of innocence. Forms are born here and order themselves without me. I see it happening in the same way as sometimes you see human figures on a cloud ( Clay, 1961).



– Hans Arp Sculptures – A critical survey, Kai Fisher, édition Hatje Cantz, Arie Hartog, 2012

– Jean Arp –, L’invention de la forme, catalogue of the retrospective at the Palais de Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, 2004. pp.11 and 185.

– Notes sur l’importance du plâtre dans l’œuvre de Jean Arp, Greta Stroeh, Clamart Meudon, October 1977.

Jean Arp, Lionel Jianou, Ed. Arted, Paris, 1973, p. 116-117, ill. «Cerveau de rocher ». pp. 122-123, ill. « L’ami du petit doigt ».

Jean Arp sculptures, 1957-1966, Edouard Trier Ed. Gerd Hatje, Stuttgart, 1968, p.78, ill.«Cerveau de rocher ». p. 81, ill. « L’ami du petit doigt ».

– La singulière ascension de Jean Arp, Jean Clay, Réalités, n°180, 1961.

© Photo E. Touchaleaume - F. Calmon. Archives Galerie 54, Paris.

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