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French-American Artist

Arman Photo
Movement: Nouveau Réalisme

Born: November 17, 1928 - Nice, France

Died: October 22, 2005 - New York, NY, USA

"As a witness of my society, I have always been very much involved in the cycle of production, consumption, and destruction."

Arman Signature

Summary of Arman

Arman is most associated with the Nouveau Réalisme (New Realism) movement that emerged in 1960, and which represented France's response to the trend of Pop art that was sweeping Europe and the United States. Arman had first emerged as a lyrical abstract painter, but he soon rejected the style and began making sculpture inspired by the concept of the readymade. Arman's most notable work was preoccupied with the consequences of mass production: his Accumulations often reflected on the identical character of modern objects; his Poubelles, or "trash cans," considered the waste that results when these objects are discarded; and his Coleres, or "rages," expressed an almost irrational rage at objects that, in modern times, threatened to dominate everyday life. At his best, Arman delivered a powerful and chilling rejection of modernization and the culture of mass consumption. Later, he developed an aesthetic based on the act of destruction, his pieces commemorating the obliteration objects in various ways.

Key Ideas

Many of Arman's early sculptures point to the strangeness inherent in the idea of identical, mass produced objects. Gathering these identical objects together, he distracts us from their functional purpose and presents them instead as endlessly repeated forms - forms which seem to have a deeper meaning that, bia the processes of modernization, has been lost to us. In his focus on repetition, Arman's work echoes that of many American Minimalists and Pop artists of the same period.
Arman was important in pioneering the European return to Marcel Duchamp's idea of the readymade. Arman's fascination with it points to his belief that contemporary sculpture had to confront the commodity. That is, sculpture could no longer be crafted by hand, or displayed as a testimony to craft skills and imagination; instead it had to respond to the characteristics of mass-produced consumer goods.
Arman's persistent use of trash was a deliberate nod to the waste that mass production generates when time passes and goods are discarded. It also points to the wreckage of human history and the threat that humanity's production of waste might eventually literally bury us. In this respect, Arman's work might be read as an important early response to environmental issues.
Arman Photo

Arman was born Armand Pierre Fernandez to Marie Jacquet and Antonio Fernandez in 1928. In his early years, Arman lived alone with Marie, who did not marry Antonio until Arman was five, and during those years he often relied on his own imagination and invention to occupy himself. Learning to play chess at the age of eight, Arman retained an interest in games of strategy throughout his life.

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