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Born in Nice in 1928, Armand Pier Fernandez, commonly known as Arman, is a highly successful artist whose artistic career has developed from painting to sculpture.
At the beginning, Arman painted works on canvas using an abstract technique. Later on, the artist devoted himself to the creation of accumulations of disused objects such as shoes, watches and tubes of tempera, giving a definitive turn to his artistic career.
The artist has in fact made everyday objects the protagonists of his art: Arman's passion for sculpture is reflected in the creation of striking works.
A preferred subject that is a recurring for Arman artist are violins and musical instruments of various kinds, dissected and broken down and enriched with a gold patina coating.
Died in New York in 2005, Fernandez Arman is also remembered as one of the first artists to join the Nouveau Réalisme art movement.
With him, other artists such as Yves Klein, Raymond Hains, Jacques Villeglé, Jean Tinguely and François Dufrêne participated in this movement.
In the following paragraphs, an overview of the development of the artistic career of the sculptor painter Arman will be presented through his most characteristic works, such as accumulations and violins.
The artworks of Arman Accumulations are a result of the artistic evolution of a sculptor who, over the years, underwent a profound transformation process that contributed to the formation of Nouveau Réalisme.
In 1947 Armand Pier Fernandez met Yves Klein, a French artist who took part in this artistic movement and who had a major influence on Arman's conception of art.
In the mid-1950s, the artist began to use rubber stamps in his works, creating numerous repetitions of images, named Cachet.
In 1957, following a printing error in which the last letter of his name was omitted, Arman became the pseudonym under which the artist signed his works. This oversight also allowed him to pay homage to the artist Vincent Van Gogh, who signed each of his works only with his own name.
At the end of the 1950s, Arman focused on the creation of Allures, imprints on paper of objects impregnated in oil paint.
In the 1960s, the artist's technique underwent a further change that led to the creation of Arman's accumulations, violins and other works, among them the inclusions.
In his best-known sculptures, Arman represented Coleres, destroyed objects, Coupes, cut objects and Combustions, burnt objects.
Arman's Accumulations works first appeared in the early 1960s, when the artist began to focus his attention on a new art form.
The Accumulations are composed of numerous identical or similar everyday objects arranged on a wooden base and enclosed by a sheet of Plexiglas.
The artist used combinations of glue, cement, polyester and solder to create blocks of objects piled up together: in his works, Arman transforms the object into art, elevating its value through infinite profusion.
During his artistic career of Arman, artist has created accumulations of all kinds and sizes, including many monumental sculptures created from the mid-1970s onwards.
Arman's Accumulation works can be grouped into three categories:
Accumulations of Real Objects
Accumulations in Plexiglas
Accumulations in a Box
In the Accumulations of Real Objects Arman creates impactful sculptures by inserting pieces of bronze statues and everyday objects such as work tools, clothing, cameras, shopping trolleys or car parts and much more.
Unlike Arman's other Accumulations, these are not placed in any container or immersed in resin or glue.
Some of Arman's Accumulations of Real Objects are:
Arman's sculptures Accumulations in Plexiglas consist of accumulations of objects enclosed in a transparent case that allows the work to be observed from different perspectives.
In these works, the artist also elevates everyday objects to the status of works of art, bringing them to the viewer's attention in an unusual way.
By dipping objects such as buttons, coins and watches into resin or glue, Arman creates numerous Accumulations in Plexiglas:
In Arman's works Accumultations in a Box the artist creates his accumulations of objects inside wooden boxes.
Using first domestic objects such as watches, women's shoes, padlocks and bottle caps and later industrial goods, Arman creates sculptures of all kinds.
Among the Accumulations in a Box created by Arman during his artistic career are:
Arman's violins can be described as some of the artist's best known and most appreciated sculptures.
Before becoming an important exponent of Nouveau Réalisme and devoting himself to sculpture, Arman frequently depicted violins on canvas with an abstract technique that he later abandoned in favour of accumulations.
Manipulated in a variety of ways by Arman, violins and other musical instruments were broken down, destroyed or burnt by the artist, creating unique specimens.
In doing so, the artist gives new life to the instruments and transforms them into works of art, paradoxically starting from their devastation.
The subject of the violin appears in many of Arman's sculptures including Accumulations, Coleres, Coupes and Combustions.
Arman's works realised during his artistic career are numerous and can be grouped into different categories.
In Armand Fernandez's various representations, the dark side of consumerism is emphasized while at the same time revealing a contemplation of mass goods, the basis of consumerism itself.
Through unusual, provocative but also suggestive works such as accumulations, Arman has managed to leave a significant mark on the history of art.
Among Arman's earliest and most famous sculptures are the Poubelles, followed by Coleres, Coupes and Combustions, a series of destroyed, decomposed or burnt works.
Les Poubelles are sculptures by Arman created from 1959 onwards, which consist of waste piled together in glass parallelepipeds.
In these artworks Arman encapsulates a message of criticism towards consumerist society, foregrounding the state of degradation and superficiality that industrialisation brings.
The artist wanted to make it clear how damaging rampant industrial production was, highlighting his concern about the diminishing surface area due to the ever-increasing presence of material waste.
The first Poubelles created by Arman are:
Two of Arman's Poubelles belonged to Andy Warhol, who also owned the Amphetamine Accumulation.
The creation of the first Colères in Arman art production dates back to 1961, when the artist began to destroy musical instruments and then reinstall them on pedestals or wall supports.
Through the act of destroying the object Arman gives it a new life, humanising it and showing that in addition to its outward appearance, every material thing also has a soul.
Using wind instruments, pianos, cellos and violins, Arman creates ironic and provocative sculptures that will become an important part of art heritage.
The artist created several Colères during live performances: one of the best known is Conscius Vandalismwhere he destroyed the entire furniture of a kitchen at the Gibson Gallery in New York with an axe.
On another occasion, the sculptor performed Colère de Contrebasse live in front of NBC cameras filming the movie Impasse Ronsin.
The first ever performance was during the Nouveau Réalisme festival where, in order to realise Chopin's Waterloo, Arman broke the Henry II-style furniture.
Other Arman works belonging to the Colères series include:
Arman's sculptures belonging to the Coupes collection were made from 1961 onwards, and in this series of works the artist also uses violins as his subject matter.
The assiduous presence of these musical instruments in Arman's works is due to the artist's childhood memories of his cellist mother.
In Arman's Coupes, violins and other objects were dissected by the artist and then reassembled on a panel, creating a rhythmic sequence that gave elegance to the instrument, despite the altered state of it.
Some of Arman's sculptures from the Coupes series are:
In 1963, the painter-sculptor Arman created a new series of impactful works renamed Combustion: Armanburns objects, implementing a highly destructive treatment.
In the performances in which he created Combustion, Arman set fire to the subject of the work and then extinguished the flames before the subject itself was completely destroyed.
In this way, the artist made the musical instruments lose their primary function in order to contextualise them in a new reality.
Around the mid-1980s, Arman devoted himself to the creation of monumental sculptures by making large-scale accumulations.
The artist created public works of various kinds using machines, musical instruments, industrial pieces and much more.
Among Arman's first monumental sculptures in 1985 is Music Power, a reproduction of a bronze double bass installed at the Acropolis in Nice.
In the same year, The Time Of All and Point Of Life were also created by the artist and placed at the Saint Lazarre station in Paris, followed by numerous others over the years.
Arman's most famous Monumental Sculptures are:
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