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Art Gallery the Eye and the Hand



Armand Pierre Arman

Birth name     Armand Pierre Fernandez
Born     November 17, 1928(1928-11-17)
Nice, France
Died     October 22, 2005 (aged 76)
New York City
Nationality     French
Field     Sculpture, Painting, Printmaking
Movement     Nouveau Réalisme
Influenced by     Kurt Schwitters, Vincent van Gogh, Surrealism, Dada, Serge Poliakoff, Nicolas de Stael

Arman (November 17, 1928 – October 22, 2005) was a French-born American artist.Born Armand Pierre Fernandez in Nice, France, Arman is a painter who moved from using the objects as paintbrushes ("allures d'objet") to using them as the painting itself. He is best known for his "accumulations" and destruction/recomposition of objects.


Arman's father, Antonio Fernandez, an antiques dealer in Nice, was also an amateur artist and photographer, as well as a cellist. From his father, Arman learned oil painting and photography. After receiving his bachelor's degree in philosophy and mathematics in 1946, Arman began studying at the Ecole Nationale d'Art Decoratif in Nice. He also began learning Judo at a police Judo School in Nice where he met the artists Yves Klein and Claude Pascal. The trio would bond closely on a subsequent hitchhiking tour of the nations of Europe. Completing his studies in 1949, Arman enrolled as a student at the École du Louvre in Paris, where he concentrated on the study of archaeology and oriental art. In 1951, Arman became a teacher at the Bushido Kai Judo School. During this time he also served in the French military, completing his tour of duty as a medical orderly during the Indo-Chinese War.

Early career

Early in the development of his career, it was apparent that Arman's concept of the accumulation of vast quantities of the same objects was to remain a significant component of his art. Ironically, Arman had originally focused more attention on his abstract paintings, considering them to be of more consequence than his early accumulations of postage stamps. Only when he witnessed viewer reaction to his first accumulation in 1959 did he fully recognize the power of such art. In 1962, he began welding together accumulations of the same kinds of metal objects, such as axes (as pictured below).
Avalanch (1990), Tel-Aviv University campos.
Inspiration and name change

Inspired by an exhibition for the German Dadaist, Kurt Schwitters, in 1954 Arman began working on "Cachets", his first major artistic undertaking. At his third solo exhibition, held in Paris’s Galerie Iris Clert in 1958, Arman showed some of his first 2D accumulations he called "cachets". These stamps on paper and fabric were to prove a success and were to provide an important change of course for the young artist’s career. Arman was signing with his first name as an homage to Van Gogh, (who signed his works "Vincent"), in 1957, he chose to change the spelling of his name from Armand to Arman. On January 31, 1973, upon becoming a citizen of the United States, he took, as his American civil name, Armand Pierre Arman. Nevertheless, he continued to use "Arman" as his public persona.

Evolution of work

From 1959-1962 Arman developed his most recognizable style, beginning with his two most renowned concepts: "Accumulation" and "Poubelle". Accumulations were collections of common and identical objects which he arranged in polyester castings or within Plexiglas cases. His first welded accumulations were created in 1962.

The "Poubelles" were collections of strewn refuse. In 1960, he filled the Galerie Iris Clert in Paris with garbage, creating ""Le Plein" ("Full Up") as a contrepoint of the exhibition called "Le Vide" at the same gallery two years earlier by his friend Yves Klein. These works began to garner the attention of the European art community.

In October 1960, together with Arman, Yves Klein, François Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, Martial Raysse, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely and Jacques Villeglé, the art critic and philosopher Pierre Restany founded the group Nouveau réalisme, joined later by Cesar, Mimmo Rotella, Niki de Saint Phalle and Christo, the group of young artists defined themselves as bearing in common their "new perspective approaches of reality". They were reassessing the concept of art and the artist for a 20th Century consumer society by reasserting the humanistic ideals in the face of industrial expansion.

In 1961, Arman made his debut in the United States, the country which was to become his home. During this period, Arman explored creation via destruction. The "Coupes" and the "Colères" featured sliced, burned or smashed objects arranged on canvas, often using objects with a strong "identity" such as music instruments or bronze statues.

Arman and Warhol

Arman can be seen in Andy Warhol's film Dinner at Daley's, a documentation of a dinner performance by the Fluxus artist Daniel Spoerri that Warhol filmed on March 5, 1964. Throughout his portrait screen test film, Arman sits in profile, looking down, appearing to be entranced in his reading, seemingly unaware of Warhol's camera, only making small gestures, rubbing his eyes and licking the corner of his mouth. He remained silent, eyes gazing over the pages of what seemed to be a newspaper, in this four-minute 16mm black & white reel. Warhol owned two of Arman's Poubelles and another accumulation called Amphetamines, which were put up for sale at Sotheby's auction of the Andy Warhol Collection in May 1988.
Eros, Inside Eros, bronze of 1986, in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Move to New York City

Enamored with the scene in New York, Arman took up residency in the city, just after his first exhibition at the Cordier Ekstrom. In 1973 he would become an American citizen. In New York, first at the Chelsea Hotel, and later at his more official studios, Arman began work on ever increasingly ambitious projects. There were varied expansions of the Accumulations, their content included tools, watches, clocks, furniture, automobile parts, jewelry, and, of course, music instruments in various stages of dismemberment. Musical instruments, specifically the strings and the brass, would come to form a major constituent of Arman’s oeuvre.

Of Arman's accumulations, one of the largest is Long Term Parking, which is on permanent display at the Chateau de Montcel in Jouy-en-Josas, France. Completed in 1982, the sculpture is an eighteen-meter high accumulation of sixty automobiles embedded in over forty thousand pounds of concrete. Just as ambitious was the 1995 work Hope for Peace,[6] which was specially commissioned by the Lebanese government to commemorate fifty years of the Lebanese military’s service. Standing in once war-torn Beirut, the thirty-two meter monument consists of eighty-three tanks and military vehicles.

Personal life

Arman married in 1953 the electronic music composer Eliane Radigue (two daughters, Marion, 1951 and Anne 1953; one son Yves Arman 1954, deceased in 1989). He then married in 1971, Corice Canton (one daughter, Yasmine 1982; one son, Philippe 1987). He had a sixth and last child, Yves Cesar, 1989, born out of wedlock.

Exhibitions and awards, selected


    * Arman, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Holland
    * Arman, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota


    * Arman, Museum Hans Lange, Krefeld, Germany


    * Arman, Palais de Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium
    * Arman, Musée de la Ville, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France


    * Arman, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Italy

Arman: Accummulations Renault(Traveling Exhibition):

    * Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Holland
    * Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, France; *Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
    * Humlebaek, Denmark; *Kunsthalle, Berlin, Germany; *Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, Germany
    * Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; *Städtische Kuntsammlungen, Ludwigshafen, Germany
    * Kunsthaus, Zurich, Switzerland; *Amos Anderson Taidemuseo, Helsinki, Helsingfors, Finland


    * Arman, Modern Art Museum, Stockholm, Sweden


    * Arman, Salles romanes du Cloître Saint-Trophime, Musée Réattu, Arles, France.
    * Arman: Selected Works 1958 - 1974, La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, California; *Fort Worth Art Museum, Texas


    * Arman: Objets Armés 1971 - 1974, Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France.


    * Arman, Artcurial, Paris, France.


    * Arman: Paintings and Sculptures, Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita State University, Kansas.


    * Arman, Veranneman Foundation, Kruishoutem, Belgium.


    * Arman: Rétrospective, Centre d’Art et de Culture, Flaine, France.


    * Arman, Veranneman Foundation, Kruishoutem, Belgium.


    * Arman, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, Germany.


    * Arman: Parade der Objekte: Retrospektive 1955 - 1982, *Kuntsmuseum, Sammlung Sprengel, Hanover, Germany; *Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, Germany; *Tel Aviv Museum, Israel; *Kuntshalle, Tubingen, Germany; *Musée Picasso, Château Grimaldi, Antibes, France; *Musée d’Art Contemporain Dunkerque, France.


    * Arman o L’Oggetto come Alfabeto: Retrospettiva 1955 - 1984, Museo Civico delle Belle Arti, Lugano, Switzerland.

    * Arman, Museo d’Arte Moderna, Parma, Italy.


    * Arman, Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan; Walker Hill Art Center, Seoul, Korea.
    * Arman Aujourd’hui, Musée de Toulon, France.


    * Arman: Retrospective, Wichita State University, Ulrich Museum of Art, Kansas.
    * Arman, Veranneman Foundation, Kruishoutem, Belgium.


    * Arman in Italy, Fondazione Mudima, Milan, Italy
    * Arman Sculpture, Contemporary Sculpture Center, Tokyo, Japan
    * Arman: A Retrospective 1955 - 1991, The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York; The Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, Illinois


    * Il Giro di Arman, Associazionne Culturale Italo-Francese, Bologna, Italy


    * Le Ceramica di Arman, Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche in Faenza, Faenze, Italy


    * Arman, Musée Royal de Mariemont, Mariemont-Chapelle, Belgium


    * Arman: The Exhibition of International Sculpture Master, Modern Art Gallery, Taichung, Taïwan


    * Arman, Musée du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France


    * Arman, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel

    * Arman, Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janiero, Brazil; Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, Sao Paulo, Brazil


    * Arman - 20 stations de l’objet, Couvent des Cordeliers, Paris, France
    * Arman, Fundaciò "la Caixa," Barcelona, Spain
    * Arman, la traversée des objets, Palazzo delle Zitelle, Venice, Italy
    * Arman, Museo de Monterrey, Mexico
    * Arman, National Museum of History, Taipei, China


    * Arman: Werke auf Papier, Ludwig Museum, Coblenz, Germany


    * Arman: Through and Across Objects, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida


    * Arman: Works on Paper, Villa Haiss Museum, Zell, Germany


    * Awarded 2003 Sport Artist of the Year, The American Sport Art Museum and Archives, United States Sports Academy, Daphne, AL
    * Arman: Arman, Museum of Contemporary Art of Teheran, Teheran, Iran
    * Arman, Marlborough New York, New York City


    * Omaggio ad Arman Arte Silva, Sergno
    * Arman - Peinture, Marlborough Monaco, Monaco


    * Hommage a Arman, Galerie Anne Lettree, Paris


    * Arman - Subida al Cielo, Musee d' Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain Nice, Nice
    * Arman - A Tribute to Arman, Marlborough New York, New York City
    * Arman - No Comment, Galerie Georges-Phillippe & Nathalie Vallois, Paris


    * Arman, Palazzo Bricherasio, Turin

[edit] Public collections in the U.S.A., selected

    * Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA
    * Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
    * Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita, KS
    * Harvard Art Museum, Cambridge, MA
    * The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
    * Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
    * Laumeier Sculpture Park, Saint Louis, MO
    * Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO
    * Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO
    * Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY
    * Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY
    * Allen Art Museum, Oberlin College, OH
    * Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, WA

[edit] Books about Arman

    * Chalumeau, Jean-Luc and Pierre Restany (preface), Arman: Shooting Colors, Paris, France: Éditions de la Différence, Autre Musée/Grandes Monographies, 1989
    * Kuspit, Donald. Monochrome Accumulations 1986—1989. Stockholm: A. H. Graphik, 1990
    * Otmezguine, Jane and Marc Moreau, in collaboration with Corice Arman. Estampes. Paris: Éditions Marval, 1990
    * Durand-Ruel, Denyse. Arman - Vol. II: 1960 à 1962. Paris: Éditions de la Différence, 1991
    * Durand-Ruel, Denyse. Arman - Vol. III: 1963 à 1965. Paris: Éditions de la Différence, 1994

Image Rétrospective Arman _ Centre pompidou 2010

La Diagonale du Fou

par Jean-Michel Bouhours,
conservateur au musée national d'art moderne, commissaire de l'exposition Arman

"Je suis placé en fianchetto", répondait Arman à Marcel Duchamp en 1961, à New York. Il tentait par ce subterfuge d'attirer sur lui l'attention du "maître". En utilisant ce langage de joueur d'échecs – qui désigne la place du fou en contrôle de la diagonale –, l'artiste français, signataire du manifeste des nouveaux réalistes en octobre 1960, décrivait sa position sur la carte de la scène artistique française : regardant Paris depuis Nice, il se figurait sur cet axe majeur avec devant lui une perspective quasi infinie.

Arman affectionnait les boîtes, les cases, les territoires prospectifs du jeu d'échec et surtout du jeu de go. Déplaçons-nous, pour aborder Arman, sur les huit cases d'une hypothétique diagonale du fou.

A.1 : Le monde est grand, mais, à l'image du damier, il s'agit de le posséder. Claude Pascal, Yves Klein et Arman se le partagent en 1947, dans une salle de judo du Club de la police de Nice. Klein s'approprie l'espace, signe le bleu du ciel. Arman reçoit en dotation l'objet manufacturé, qui devait devenir progressivement le lieu commun de son oeuvre.

B.2 : Le quantitatif chez Arman met en jeu un principe de répétition d'où surgit la perception d'une différence, si infime soitelle. Arman avait le goût de la collection, amassant tout, depuis les plantes grasses sur le balcon de son appartement niçois jusqu'aux armures japonaises, sans oublier l'art nègre dont il devient un éminent spécialiste. Pour un objet affectionné, Arman était capable de tout : vendre, liquider ou renoncer. Ce goût de posséder et d'amasser – Umberto Eco évoque le vertige de la liste et la poétique du catalogue – mène Arman au principe de l'accumulation, une pratique cruciale pour son oeuvre à partir des années 1960.

C.3 : À la manière des films de sciencefiction dans lesquels il est question de créature terrifiante et mystérieuse, Arman crée la sienne, informe, proliférante, vivante, "Le Plein". En 1960, l'exposition consistant à emplir de déchets la petite galerie d'Iris Clert fut un acte subversif, une prise de possession et une contamination du système artistique marchand. Yves Klein fait acte de purification avec l'exposition "Le Vide" (1958) ; Arman se vautre par engagement dans son antithèse : une débauche matérielle de basse condition.

D.4 : Arman se définissait comme un homme d'action, gourmand, curieux de l'oeuvre à naître. Il déambule sur le marché aux puces, achète une vieille contrebasse, heureux de son acquisition. Il passe la nuit avec elle et le lendemain, sa conquête sur l'épaule comme un ouvrier portant son échelle, il se rend impasse Ronsin. Là, son complice Martial Raysse, qui a préparé au sol un panneau de bois, l'attend. Arman gratte les cordes comme pour caresser ultimement l'instrument puis, le saisissant par le manche, il le passe au-dessus de ses épaules et, d'un coup sec, le fracasse sur le sol. L'instrument pleure, gémit sous l'estocade : Arman est "en rage". Il affectionne particulièrement les instruments de musique : violons, saxophones, trombones, guitares, mandolines... à tel point que certains y voient un rejet de la musique. Il fait aussi exploser des voitures ou des postes de télévision. Arman invente une procédure plus "froide" que la colère, par laquelle il travaillera désormais sur la forme des objets : les "coupes". Muni d'une scie américaine capable de tout sectionner en rondelles, Arman coupe dans son atelier toutes sortes d'objets, et procède, par la coupe et le réassemblage sur un plan-tableau, à des anamorphoses : l'instrument devient ainsi un papillon ou une courtilière.

E.5 : Figure de témoin de son époque, Arman se fait archéologue. L'utilisation des premières résines polyester au début des années 1960, puis du béton au cours des années 1970, lui offre d'emprisonner dans une gangue des objets de la vie courante. Selon une figure de suspension (définitive ?) du temps, Long Term Parking, à Jouy en Josas, est une tour, un monument, un hymne à l'objet fétiche du 20e siècle, l'automobile : cinquante-neuf voitures enfouies dans près de deux mille tonnes de béton érigent cette tour de vingt mètres de hauteur.

F.6 : À côté de figures tutélaires comme Cézanne ou Van Gogh, Arman se définit comme "para-artiste". Il ne se démarque pas tout à fait de la pratique du peintre. Ses premières accumulations, où l'objet atteint sa "masse" critique, relèvent pour Arman de la problématique de la monochromie. Quand il réalise son action Pinceaux piégés au Carré d'art de Nîmes en 1990, collant plusieurs milliers de pinceaux sur les murs du musée, Arman allie le geste des expressionnistes abstraits à l'accumulation du matériel.

G.7 : L'argent n'est qu'une convention chez Arman, très dispendieux, capable de dire "banco" avant d'avoir le premier sou. On a souvent dit qu'Arman aimait l'argent. Mais l'argent lui filait entre les doigts. Arman était surtout un agent d'échange artistique.

H.8 : "Et s'il n'en reste qu'un [il] serait celui-là." La solitude du roi. À la fin de 1959, Arman fait un geste parmi les plus iconoclastes du 20e siècle en devenant l'artiste des poubelles. "L'homme est confronté avec ce qui le dégoûte : l'odeur, le gluant du toucher, la décomposition." En réunissant des déchets dans une vitrine, Arman dévoie le principe de préciosité, de valeur, et affirme – avec un goût prononcé de la provocation et en héritier de Marcel Duchamp – le principe de valeur ajoutée de la décision artistique.

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