ARMAN

1928 (Nice) - 2005 (New York)

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Biography

 ARMAN

The French Armand  Pierre Fernandez, born in 1928, is one of the most important  international object artists and a co-founder and member of the Nouveau  Réalisme. He studied at the Ecole Nationale des Arts Décoratifs in Nice  from 1946 to 1949 and then continued his studies for two years at the  Ecole du Louvre in Paris. An acquaintance with Yves Klein led to the  idea of organising joint happenings and events, which the two artists  realised in 1953. Armand's neo-dadaist 'Cachets' (stamp prints) of  1955, and later the 'Allures' (prints made with objects dipped into  paint) and the 'Coupés' (cut-up objects) followed by the 'Colères'  (objects which were smashed and then mounted) were still influenced by  Kurt Schwitters. When the last letter of his name was accidentally  forgotten on a catalogue cover in 1958, he decided to keep this  spelling. 
In 1957, Arman became interested in common objects as works of art. First he did what came to be called his "allures d"objet" (object impressions) where he would dip an object into paint and press it on canvas; thereby leaving the object's shadow or impression. Then he figured the object itselt was worth paying attention to and he started to "treat" them in his own way. Arman's way of treating objects is very special: his intention is to remove the material function of an object so that as a work of art its only possible function is to "teed the mind" and not serve a material purpose anymore. What better way could he find to achieve that result than by breaking, slicing or even burning objects such as a violin, telephone, typewriter or even a whole car. He also makes objects useless by accumulating them (2,000 wrist watches in a plexiglass box are fun to watch but not very functional unless you like to "pick your time").
The artist discovered his famous 'Poubelles', Plexiglas cases  with rubbish cast in resin, at the beginning of the 1960s. From the  'Poubelles' Arman developed the so-called 'Accumulations', a number of  the same objects assembled in show cases. These arrangements consist  mainly of objects of every-day life, with which the artist ironically  questions the one-sided waste character of mass products. Arman began  working on the 'Combustiones' (burnt objects) during a stay in New York  in 1963. He accepted a teaching post in Los Angeles in 1967 and taught  at the University of California until 1968. From 1975 onwards Arman  spent seven years working on a monumental sculpture made of 60 cars  which he called 'Long Term Parking'.

From the mid-1960s Arman made numerous visits to New York, and he soon  came to regard the USA as his second home, taking American citizenship  in 1972. The stocks of new objects that he discovered there directed  him towards new and more abstract accumulations. These culminated in  1967–8 in the Renault Accumulations (e.g. Renault Accumulation No. 106,  1967; see 1986 exh. cat., p. 221), highly sculptural works made from  separate pieces supplied by the Renault car factory, and in large-scale  commissioned monuments such as Long Term Parking (h. 18 m, 1982–3; Jouy-en-Josas, Fond. Cartier Mus.), a gigantic tower consisting of 60 cars embedded in concrete. In his later work he also recast some of his earlier Rages and Combustions in bronze, and in another series, Armed Objects,  he used concrete as a base in which to fix the object, somewhat in the  way he had previously used transparent plastic. He broadened his  imagery to include tools while remaining faithful above all to objects symbolizing the excesses of the consumer society. Arman was also an avid collector  of objects, artefacts and works of art, including watches, radios,  cars, European pistols, African carved sculpture (especially Kota  guardian figures) and Japanese armour.
The interesting fact is that once emotionally detached from the circumstances associated with a broken violin,  one-can grow to appreciate its abstract beauty; and, in a sense, Arman is literally teaching you that things you never thought could be regarded as attractive can indeed turn out to be very aesthetic.

Because of this achievement, Arman has come to full worldwide recognition.

Each year for the past eight years Arman has figured among the top 15 artists in the list of "Top 100" artists of world-renown. Some of his original works ot art are selling for up to $100, 000. His prints and posters have been used to promote international music festivals, i.e., Luxumberg-1978.

Arman has had over 30 one-man shows in museums all over the world, many TV interviews, and innumerable articles about his work.
Together  with Klein, Tinguely, Raysse and César, Arman is one of the most  important artists of the Nouveau Réalisme. Since the 1950s he has been  honoured with numerous international exhibitions and has presented  works twice at the documenta 3 and 6 in Kassel.