Progression of Art
Inspired by a rubber stamp collage by Kurt Schwitters, Arman considered Mauve Administratif to be among his first mature works. It is an example of his cachets, or "imprints." It incorporates areas of abstract painting in the manner of the lyrical abstraction that he had previously employed, but brings new, Minimalist-like methods to bear. In this way Arman married expressive brushwork with readymade motifs that carried no trace of the artist - an incongruous mix of opposites. The "collection" of imprints in the piece can be considered the root of the majority of his later work that featured a similar repetition of motifs. These stamp-and-ink works led to experimentation with other objects, such as hats and clothing, but Arman eventually found that he preferred to work with solid objects because they would retain their shape.
Estate of the artist
Le Plein (Full-up) which took place at Galerie Iris Clert, was inspired by Yves Klein's exhibition Le Vide (The Void). Klein's conceptual exhibition was also staged the Clert gallery in 1957, and consisted of an empty gallery with an empty display case. Originally planned to be shown immediately after Klein's installation, it took Arman two years to convince the gallery director to agree to his answer to Klein's exhibition. Arman originally wanted to have the garbage deposited in the gallery by sanitation workers - an indication of his interest in chance, and his desire to distance himself as author of the work - but he ended up collecting it himself when the city refused. When Arman's installation was completed, people could only view it through the glass windows of the gallery which had been completely filled with trash. Although a direct response to Klein's work, Le Plein showcased Arman's interest in the Dadaist's use of found and discarded objects. Klein is quoted as saying, "After my own emptiness comes Arman's fullness. The universal memory of art was lacking his conclusive mummification of quantification."
Garbage - Originally exhibited at Galerie Iris Clert, Paris
This particular colere was made at a television studio during the making of an American documentary about French avant-garde art. When asked in an interview about his attraction to acts of violence, Arman cited his fascination with the ability of war to channel sexual energy. In fact critics have often made parallels between the coleres and contemporary conflicts, though Arman was never too eager to make these connections himself. For him, destruction was simply another perspective through which to view the object. As he put it, "destruction is more to stop the time." Indeed, he saw his different tactics of multiplication and destruction as closely related approaches to the object. "My intent," he said, "is in exploring the various worlds of the object."
Broken bass fiddle mounted on wood panel - Estate of the artist
Little Hands is typical of the strategy behind Arman's Accumulations series, where he would gather identical objects together and display them in a vitrine, or glass-fronted case. Works such as this have often been described as Surrealist, since Surrealist artists were typically intrigued by mannequins and other discarded commodities. But Arman's method of accumulating objects shifts the emphasis from the peculiarities of the individual object to the phenomena of repetition and mass production. Some critics have suggested that the inspiration for such works might have come instead from Alain Resnais film Night and Fog (1955), the first documentary film about the Holocaust, which contained images of the piled clothing and other identical objects taken from prisoners upon their admission to concentration camps. This reading seems to properly capture the violence of Little Hands, with its awful suggestion of a massacre of the innocents.
Dolls' hands - Artists' estate
Long Term Parking
This ambitious sculpture stands 50 feet high, consisting of 60 cars encased in over 40,000 pounds of concrete. As a monument to modernity, it might be compared with Vladimir Tatlin's Monument to the Third International (1919-20), which was conceived as a celebration of a new era of technology and progress following the Russian Revolution of 1917. By contrast, Long Term Parking calls attention to the failure of modern utopias. The concrete shell leaves the vehicles functionally useless, pouring scorn on the products of mass production and the overblown proportions of American consumerism. Completed over the course of seven years, it represents the culmination of Arman's Accumulations series.
Automobiles in concrete - Chateau de Montcel, Jouy-en-Josas, France
Clocks and timepieces make recurring appearances in Arman's work, a reflection of his abiding interest in time. Yet when asked if he had an obsession with time, he demurred, explaining that his desire to freeze time has more to do with an obsession with memories. "Memory creates time," he said. "Time doesn't exist. It doesn't exist in any way. It's more subjective than real. Time doesn't exist. I believe in memory. Memory is the real inspiration. Memory creates time. Memory is pure power. Pure power and pure strength, and pure utilization of space and time (if time is something we can really ever label). But I don't believe in time itself."
Alarm clocks in Plexiglas - Estate of the artist