Arp, Hans/Jean (1886–1966) By Obler, Bibiana
Hans/Jean Arp is an Alsatian poet and artist, who was a founding member of Dada and an active participant in Constructivism and Surrealism. Arp grew up in Strasbourg speaking German, French, and Alsatian. He studied fine arts in Strasbourg, Weimar, and Paris, and even early in his career was active in international artistic and literary circles. In 1910, he co-founded the Moderne Bund and contributed to Der Blaue Reiter Almanach [The Blue Rider Almanac]. A German citizen, Arp successfully dodged the draft during World War I, finding refuge first in Paris and then in Zurich. At an exhibition that featured his embroideries, tapestries, and works on paper at the Tanner Gallery, he met Sophie Taeuber, who soon became a friend and collaborator and, in October 1922, his wife. Early in their friendship, her exploration of strict geometries led to a series of collaborative vertical-horizontal compositions in collage and embroidery that are among the earliest purely abstract works produced by European avant-gardes. In 1916, Arp joined Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara, and others in launching Dada. Informed by mysticism and Eastern philosophies, Arp sought to transcend the boundedness of individual production by working with chance, thus deliberately relinquishing some control over the process of making.