Jean ARP, 1886-1966
Cerveau de rocher, 1961.
Studio plaster. 20,5 x 29,5 x 18 cm.
Provenance: collection of André Mounier, friend and collaborator of Arp.
One example in crystalline marble and three bronze casts were made from this original.
Several studio plaster versions of this sculpture are known to exist.
Some are working models that the sculptor used to elaborate the definitive piece, others are casts that Arp gave as gifts to his entourage, and others again are working models used for finalizing the marble piece or the bronze casts. The only ones that have been identified for certain as such are the working copies sent to the sculptor or the foundry. The first type have the characteristic dimension marks that serve to guide the marble worker; the second type are covered with a brown patina left by the black soap generally used as a demoulding agent for bronze models.
Whimsical and poetic, Arp’s sculptures always start from a plaster matrix that he shaped with his own hand. As of 1930 he began making his first sculptures with this material, and in 1958, to keep up with the growing demand from galleries, he enlisted the help of the plaster-worker Capelli, the stone carver Santelli and the sculptor André Mounier, who worked in Arp’s studio.
‘Plaster fascinated him and he was always amazed to see how, from its humid state, it would solidify. His plaster works are in no way like the plaster copies of traditional sculpture. But that isn’t the only reason why they have an inestimable value – the fact is that his plaster models were always the basis for his pieces in marble, stone or granite. As for the casting of bronze pieces – which he entrusted to a foundry –, there were never more than three or perhaps five copies and he always demanded that they be made using the cire perdue technique, which does not alter the plaster .’ (Stroeh, 1977)