To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
hosts until 15 February 2009, a large-scale exhibition dedicated to Hans Jean Arp, who was born in Strasbourg in 1886, and became known on the international art scene as one of the major artists of the 20th century.
An oeuvre which transcends labels
: For Arp, art is Arp, said Marcel Duchamp. For Arp, art is not limited to one definition, one affiliation, one style, but tends to slip in between the fingers of anyone trying to pin it down. Arps development eschews a linear and Manichean art-historical reading: carefully chosen documents show how he shrugged off the dogmatic quarrels that opposed the various avant-gardes and succeeded in balancing apparently irreconcilable opposites as Expressionism and Dada, Dada and Surrealism, or Surrealism and Constructivism.
An exploration of the creative process
: Instead of offering a mere chronological approach, the exhibition focuses on the internal logic at work behind the artists creative process. Not content with a how to account, it aims to show the interrelatedness of form and content during the creative process, how the artists mind and his busy hands complement one another. The exhibition looks at materials, through which Arp was able to break with tradition; it examines compositional techniques, which are open to improvisation and taken over by chance; it questions the role of the artist, and of his hands, which in Arps case sometimes disappear altogether to make way for anonymous or vicarious creation, and are sometimes so closely involved in shaping the material that they seem to breathe life into it. But Arp was also a fine poet and writer, and his texts will be considered both in their own right and in their relation to his art.
An exceptional collection of works
: To illustrate Arps ceaseless need to create of which Jean Cassou spoke, the exhibition will present around 180 sculptures, reliefs, collages and drawings, which have been gathered thanks to the close collaboration of three Arp foundations (Clamart, Locarno and Rolandseck), the brand new Bahnhof Rolandseck Arp Museum, and thanks to generous loans from many museums (such as the Paris National Modern Art Museum, the Basle Kunstmuseum, the Nationalgalerie in Berlin, the National Gallery in Washington, the New York MoMA) and from private collections.
Rediscovering the aubette
: This exhibition at the Strasbourg Modern and Contemporary Art Museum will be an occasion to rediscover the Aubette, which was decorated by Theo van Doesburg, Sophie Tauber-Arp and Jean Arp in 1928. This collective endeavour is a total work of art which has been described as the Sistine Chapel of Modern Art.