Tag Archives: Dada

Modern Art Monday Presents: Jean Arp, Constellation with Five White and Two Black Forms: Variation 2

Constellation with Five White and Two Black Forms
Photo By Gail

Jean Arp, also known as Hans Arp (September 16, 1886 – June 7, 1966) was a German-French sculptor, painter, poet and abstract artist in other media such as torn and pasted paper. When Arp spoke in German he referred to himself as Hans, and when he spoke in French he referred to himself as Jean. Interesting!

Arp was a founding member of the Dada movement in Zürich in 1916. In 1920, as Hans Arp, along with Max Ernst, and the social activist Alfred Grünwald, he set up the Cologne Dada group. However, in 1925 his work also appeared in the first exhibition of the surrealist group at the Galérie Pierre in Paris. Through his investigation of biomorphism (as seen in Constellation with Five White and Two Black Forms: Variation 2, 1932, above) and of chance and accident, he proved especially influential on later 20th-century art in liberating unconscious creative forces.

Constellation with Five White and Two Black Forms: Variation 2 by Jean (Hans) Arp is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. View it in Painting and Sculpture I, Gallery 12, 5th Floor.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Max Ernst, Napoleon in the Wilderness

Max Ernst Napoleon in the Wilderness
Photo By Gail

Max Ernst (born in Germany on April 2, 1891) was a prolific artist and a primary pioneer of both Dada and Surrealism. Seriously, his life and career are so mind-blowing they almost take too long to talk about. In Ernst’s painting Napoleon in the Wilderness (1941), a semi-nude female figure (representing his mistress at the time, Leonora Carrington) holds a strange, whimsical trumpet while almost encased inside one of several organic rock and coral formations amide a decaying fantasy landscape. Like many of Ernst’s rather eerie landscapes, Napoleon in the Wilderness is loaded with symbolism including the artist’s own sense of loss and grief, and the promise of decay and renewal. It was around the time of this painting that Ernst, who was a bit of a Ladies Man (to put it politely) abandoned Carrington to marry American socialite and art patron, Peggy Guggenheim (known for having an uncle who lent their surname to a number of large Art Museums).

Napoleon in the Wilderness is part of the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art, where it resides on the 4th floor. For anyone interested in learning more about the wildly fascinating life and career of Max Ernst, I recommend the excellent documentary, Max Ernst, which is available through Netflix.