Arman /   Armand Pierre Fernandez

France 1928 - 2005

Nouveau Réalisme

Armand Pierre Fernandez
December 11, 2014

I specialize very much in… everything. I have never been — how do you say it? A dilettante. This is the quote from the 1960s, an era that has left us with many small — and not so small — revolutions: Jean-Luc Godard and the New Wave, The Beatles, Andy Warhol, and, of course, the Nouveau réalisme movement, co-founded and led by Arman, a French artist known for his bold and visionary projects. His origins are not an easy thing to explain: he described himself as the Algerian-Spanish, with the ancestors from Malta, Tunisia, and Algeria. His grandfather was Sephardi and his grandmother was Spanish. For a man with so many origins, he managed just fine to transmit the universal message to the entire humankind.

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Arman – Cachets, Untitled, 1957

The Beginning of the Scatter Art

During the late 80s, a new art style emerged with a goal to give a new life to the discarded products of mass consumption. This, pretty much visionary style, was named Scatter Art. It was a direct successor of the infusions from the early ’70s Process Art. Arman was one of scatter art’s early proponent. Disgusted by what the world had become – this artist developed his recognizable style, a strategy of accumulating different images and objects, creating the assemblages or collages, without any glue.

Armand Pierre Fernandez was born in Nice, France in 1928. His father was an amateur artist, photographer, cellist, and an antique dealer. No wonder young Armand was initialized as a boy into the world of art, learning oil painting and photography when the most of his coevals were still passionately interested only in playing. Armand began hyper-producing his early drawings and paintings signing them only with his first name, just like one of the artists who had a great influence on him – Vincent van Gogh – used to do. Arman would stay consistent to this practice for the rest of his career, with one anecdote surrounding a missing “D” in his name. Due to the printer’s mistake on a catalog cover in 1958, when his name Armand was misspelled as Arman, this artist decided to keep his new name signing all of his work with Arman, until the rest of his life.

Art of the accumulation of objects

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Arman – Accumulations, Big Parade, 1976

Creating a Concrete Artistic Forms from the existing objects

The artist received a Philosophy and Mathematics bachelor’s degree in 1946. Additionally, he decided to make a serious attempt at life as an artist, and enrolled the École Nationale des Arts Décoratifs in Nice, just to move on to the field of history at the École du Louvre, completing his studies in the archaeology and oriental art in 1949. During all that time, Arman was fascinated by the work of Jackson Pollock and Nicolas de Staël, and he was passionately dedicated to judo, as well! While training at the police school back in his native Nice, he befriended with French artist Yves Klein and French composer Claude Pascal. Three friends frequently took road trips, the adventures hitch-hiking tours all around Europe. After graduation, Arman worked as a teacher at the Bushido Kai Judo Club in Madrid and served in the French army as a medical orderly, participating actively in the Indo-China War, ended in 1954. For all that time, he never lost interest in art – Arman based his artistic expression in a certain insurgency against Abstract Expressionists and Tachistes and their gestural techniques. He was on the quest for different sources and different means in creating a new kind of art, grounded in the idea of itself. Arman began to work on paintings that only resembled gestural abstractions, while he was actually producing concrete artistic forms, using an already existing object, the products of the modern time and its society.

Cachets – a neo-dadaist stamp prints by Arman

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Arman – Cachets, Mauve Administratif, 1957

Cachets and Poubelles

One of Arman’s first projects was so called Cachets, a neo-dadaist stamp prints done during the mid-50s. He later moved on to the Allures, an object impressions, and then to cut-up objects that he entitled Coupés. In the beginning of the ’60s, Arman was still under a tremendous impression by the exhibition German Dadaist Kurt Schwitters held in 1954. He began accumulating old materials and discarded objects that slowly started their metamorphosis into a series named Cachets, 2D accumulations, which were actually his first serious artistic commitment. Arman’s career simply took off after his third solo exhibition held in Paris’ Galerie Iris Clert where he presented the Cachets. His original concept of the accumulation of same objects’ vast quantities, simply launched the young artist to the very top of the artistic world at the time. Following Cachets, Arman also created his famous Poubelles or trash bins – a collection of strewn garbage objects in Plexiglas cases. For example, he once put 2000 wrist watches into one such box.

Poubelles: Arman’s artistic trash bins

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Arman – Poubelles, Ordures au Natural, 1972 and La Poubelle de l’Opera, 1988

Nouveau Réalisme Movement

During the ’60s, Arman co-founded the Nouveau réalisme movement, a French reaction to the Pop art movement. The fascination was mutual, Andy Warhol had in his collection two of Arman’s Poubelles, and Arman appeared in the Warhol’s 1964 film Dinner at Daley’s. Arman participated actively in the creation of Nouveau réalisme along with art critic Pierre Restany, his friends Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely, and Jacques Villeglé. The exact moment of the New Realism’s birth was at its first group exhibitions at the Apollinaire Gallery in Milan. A movement’s manifesto, titled Constitutive Declaration of New Realism, was written in April of 1960. Through the extensive use of collage, assemblage, and painting, the members were in a constant search for a new approach to the concept of reality.

Slicing, burning, wading and smashing different objects

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Arman – Sliced, Accord Majeur, 1962 (Left) / 24h Caprice de Paganini, 1962 (Right)

Coleres – Arman’s Angers

Arman’s next stop was a destruction phase. He intended to channel his anger towards mass production and mass consumption, so he got to think of a way to create something completely new, but using old products. Coleres is a series that included a complete destruction of the subject. After slicing, burning, wading or smashing different objects (from violin to car), he would find a way to mount on canvas the leftovers. Seems as if the main impeller of his work was his contempt towards a mass production. By expressing such an irrational rage like he did in Colers, Arman was actually trying to revive human nous and point out on a disaster waiting to happen – everyday life threatened by a global domination of the materialism. Boy, was he right!

His somehow chilling rejection of modernization, shown through the destruction and re-composition of objects or the endlessly repeating forms, was still surprisingly compatible with the work of the American Minimalists and Pop artists of the same period. Also, Duchamp’s idea that contemporary sculpture had to confront the commodity was joyfully accepted by Arman, so he is considered a pioneer in the efforts to create a European comeback of Marcel’s readymade. Craft skills and imagination were no longer essential in creating a sculpture, but responding to the characteristics of mass-production and industrial expansion was.

Arman - Tallyho Tallyho (Taiut Taiut), 1964
Arman – Tallyho Tallyho (Taiut Taiut), 1964

Arman’s Accumulations

One of Arman’s accumulations that really brought on a lot of attention is definitely the largest of them all: Long Term Parking, on a French Château de Montcel in Jouy-en-Josas’ permanent display. It was finished and inaugurated in 1982, presenting to the public 60 cars embedded in over 18,000 kg of concrete, in an 18-meter high installation. Another of his ambitious pieces was created in 1995. The work was commissioned by the Lebanese government in order to celebrate 50 years of the Lebanese military’s service. The piece was exposed in Beirut, a city that suffered great destruction during the war. The sculpture is 32-meter high and contains 83 tanks and other army vehicles!

Arman’s giant public works

Arman - Long Term Parking, France 1982 and Hope for peace, Lebanon 1995 © Arman Studio
Arman – Long Term Parking, France, 1982 (Left) / Hope for peace, Lebanon, 1995 (Right)

The Art of Waste

Arman’s almost obsessive use of trash and other discarded objects serve today more than ever as a constant reminder of the wreckage of human history, but the future as well. One might say that he tried to stop us from digging our graves, burying us in our own personal and unnecessary waste. The artist, who died in New York City on October 22, 2005, exhibited his oeuvre in galleries and museums internationally. His work can be found in some of the world’s most notable institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate Gallery in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and many other public and private collections.

The Arman Estate is represented by Galerie Brugier-Rigail.

Featured image copyright of Chris Felver via Gettyimages
All images copyright of Arman Studio

Year Exhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016MusicircusCentre Pompidou-Metz, FranceGroup
2016Le Nouveau RealismeSalle Jean Portal, Place Pasteur, Sainte-Maxime, FranceGroup
2016Arman AcumulationsGalerie Templon, ParisSolo
2015Microsalon: An Homage to Iris ClertLuxembourg & DayannFrieze MastersnGroup
2015Blickachsen Zur MusicKronberg Academy Festival 2015nGroup
2015Art Tonic: Contemporary Art ExhibitionPort Tonic Art Center, Saint-Tropez, FranceGroup
2015Blickachsen 10Sculpture Biennale In Bad Homburg And Frankfurt RheinMainnIn Collaboration With Middelheim Museum, Antwerp, BelgiumGroup
2015The Colors of MusicGalerie Ernst Hilger, Vienna, AustriaGroup
2015Arman: CascadesGuy Pieters Gallery, Knokke-Heist, BelgiumSolo
2015Arman and CesarAllan Stone Projects, New York, NYDuo
2015Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as CollectorsBarbican, London, EnglandGroup
2014Zero: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60sGuggenheim, New York, NYGroup
2014Sacha Sosno & Les Ecoles de NicheMuseé Regards De ProvencenMarseille, FranceGroup
2014Dis-FunctionalAllan Stone Projects, New York, NYGroup
2014Art of SoundFondazione Prada, Venice, ItalyGroup
2014Pop Culture: Selection Fron the Frederick R. Weisman Art FoundationBoca Raton Museum Of ArtnBoca Raton, FloridaGroup
2013Arman the Collector: The Artist's Collection of African ArtPaul Kasmin Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2013Arman - Cesar - Picasso - LegerGalerie Guy PietersnKnokke, BelgiumGroup
2013Arman: CyclesPaul Kasmin Nallery, New York, NYSolo
2011ArmanMuseum Tinguely, BaselSolo
2011ArmanCentre Pompidou, ParisSolo
2008Arman: The Day After, HellyNahmad Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2008ConnaughtBrown Gallery, London, UKSolo
2007Arman. PolychromesImago Gallery, Palm Desert, CASolo
2007New RealismThe Hannover Sprengel Museum, Hannover, GermanyGroup
2006Arman. Armand FernandezYeh Gallery, Seoul, South KoreaSolo
2006Arman: No CommentGalerie Georges-Philippe et Nathalie Vallois, Paris, FranceGroup
2006A Tribute to ArmanMarlborough Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2004PinturasMarlborough Gallery, Madrid, SpainSolo
2004Arman. Interactives and Serious PaintingsImago Galleries, CASolo
2004Arman. PeinturesMarlborough Gallery, Monaco, FranceSolo
2002Arman. MusiqueKunsthaus Grenchen, Grenchen, SwitzerlandSolo
2002AfricarmaniaGalerie Beaubourg, Paris, FranceSolo
2001ArmanFondacio La Caixa, Barcelona, SpainSolo
2001New Works: Sandwich CombosMarlborough Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2001Arman. Through and across objetsMuseum of Art, Boca Raton, FLSolo
2000ArmanMuseu de Arte de Sao Paulo Assis Chateaubriand-MASP, Sao Paulo, BrazilSolo
2000ArmanNational Museum of History, Taipei, TaiwanSolo
2000Arman. Works on paperLudwig Museum im Deutschherrenhaus, Koblenz, GermanySolo
2000Arman. FragmentationsGalerie Georges-Philippe et Nathalie Vallois, Paris, FranceSolo
1999Nec MergiturGalerie Piltzer, Paris, FranceSolo
1998ArmanCulturgest, Lisbonne, PortugalSolo
1997Arman. CascadesIlena Sonnabend Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1997Arman : Accumulations in RelationThe James Mayor Gallery, London, UKSolo
1997Arman : Interactives and Bicycle PaintingsYeh Gallery, Seoul, South KoreaSolo
1996Arman. InteractivesSidney Janis Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1996Arman : Accumulations de collections et TransculpturesGalerie Guy Pieters, Knokke-Le-Zoute, BelgiumSolo
1996The Exhibition of International Sculpture MasterArman, Modern Art Gallery, Taichung, TaiwanSolo
1995Arman. Starry Night Hommage aan Van GoghReflex Modern Art Gallery, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsSolo
1995Arman. Starry NightAce Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CASolo
1995Arman. Monumental Aquatints 1989-1993Avanti Galleries Inc., New York, NYSolo
1994Arman: Retrospective WorksIN Kahn Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1994Arman: Starry NightMarisa del Re Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1994Arman. Pintura e EsculturaGalerie 111, Lisbonne, PortugalSolo
1993Arman. Les Accumulations de CollectionsGalerie Beaubourg, Paris, FranceSolo
1993ArmanGalerie Pascal Retelet, Charleroi, BelgiumSolo
1992Arman 1955-1991 : A RetrospectiveThe Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TXSolo
1992BrushworksRiva Yares Gallery, Scottdale, AZSolo
1992Arman. New AccumulationsIlena Sonnabend Gallery, New York , NYSolo
1992Arman CyclesMarisa del Re Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1991Arman. Pinturas SuciasGalerie Freites, Caracas, VenezuelaGroup
1991Arman in ItalyFondazione Mudima, Milan, ItalySolo
1991Arman. Brush Strokes PaintingsGalerie Heinz Holtmann, Cologne, GermanySolo
1991Arman : Portrait-Robot de MusiciensFuji Television Gallery, Tokyo, JapanSolo
1991Arman. Archeology of the futureMarisa del Re Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1990Arman. Dirty PaintingsMarisa del Re Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1990Arman. Color Scales. New PaintingsRiva Yares Gallery, Scottsdale, AZSolo
1990Arman. Retrospective on PrintsArtcurial, Paris, FranceSolo
1990Arman. EinladungGalerie Belmont, Zurich, SwitzerlandSolo
1990Arman, Wichtige Bilder und Skulpturen 1980-1990Galerie Svetlana, Munich, GermanySolo
1989Arman. A RetrospectiveGana Art Gallery, Seoul, South KoreaSolo
1989ArmanGalerie Belmont, Reto a Marca, Zurich, SwitzerlandSolo
1989Arman. Works from 1955-1989The Mayor Gallery, London, UKSolo
1988Arman. Peintures 87-88Galerie Beaubourg, Paris, FranceSolo
1988Arman. PaintingsMarisa del Re Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1988Arman. Musical Instruments, Sculpture and Works on PaperPrinceton Gallery of Fine Art, Princeton, NJSolo
1988Arman. Beelden en SchilderijenReflex Gallery, Amsterdam, The NetherlandSolo
1988Arman. PeinturesOniris Galerie, Rennes, FranceSolo
1987Arman. CouleursGalerie Guy Pieters, Knokke-Le Zoute, BelgiumSolo
1987Arman. Gods and Goddesses and Selected Works 1963-1985Wenger Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
1987Arman. Rythmes et CouleursGalerie Ferrero, Nice, FranceSolo
1986ArmanFuji Television Gallery, Tokyo, JapanSolo
1986Arman : sculpturesEdwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita State University, Wichita, KSSolo
1986Arman. Gods and GodessesMarisa del Re Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1985ArmanSeibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, JapanSolo
1985ArmanWalker Hill Art Center, Seoul, South KoreaSolo
1984ArmanChristian Fayt Art Gallery, Knokke-Le-Zoute, BelgiumSolo
1984ArmanGalerie Reckermann, Cologne, GermanySolo
1984Arman. Concerto pour cordesGalerie Le Point, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, FranceGroup
1984Arman. Tools and instrumentsCenter for the Fine Arts, Miami, FLSolo
1984Arman. The Day AfterMarisa del Re Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1984Arman. Bijoux-ViolonsArtcurial, Paris, FranceSolo
1983Arman. Wall Pieces 1981-1983Galerie Beaubourg, Paris, FranceSolo
1982Arman: Carvings and DrawingsDeweer Art Gallery, Otegem, BelgiumSolo
1982ArmanGalerie Chappe-Lautier, Toulouse, FranceSolo
1982ArmanGalerie Sapone, Nice, FranceSolo
1982ArmanO.K. Harris Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1982Arman. Sculture dal 1979 al 1982Galleria Zarathustra, Milan, ItalySolo
1981Arman. PrintsAkira Ikeda Gallery, Nagoya, JapanSolo
1981Arman. SculpturesAkira Ikeda Gallery, Nagoya, JapanSolo
1981ArmanGalerie Diego Strazzer, Rome, ItalySolo
1980Eight Scultures. Bronze 1978-1979Galerie Valeur, Nagoya, JapanSolo
1980Arman. Book of ViolinAmano Gallery, Osaka, JapanSolo
1980ArmanSatani Gallery, Tokyo, JapanSolo
1980Arman. Recent DrawingsAkira Ikeda Gallery, Nagoya, JapanSolo
1980ArmanHacker Gallery, Stuttgart, GermanySolo
1980ArmanGalerie Holtmann, Hanovre, GermanySolo
1980ArmanGalerie Sapone, Nice, FranceSolo
1979Arman. 8 sculptures en bronze 1978-1979Galerie Valeur, FIAC, Grand Palais, Paris, FranceSolo
1979ArmanArte Contacto, Caracas, VenezuelaSolo
1979ArmanGalleria dei Amici, Florence, ItalySolo
1978Arman. Hard & SoftAndrew Crispo Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1978Arman. AccumulationsGalerie Valeur, Nagoya, JapanSolo
1978Arman JewelryEhrlich Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1978Arman - New WorksGalerie Charles Kriwin, Bruxelles, BelgiumSolo
1977ArmanGalerie Olga S., Stockholm, SwedenGroup
1977Arman ObjectsGalerie Valeur, Nagoya, JapanSolo
1977Arman. Paintings and sculptures Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita State University, Wichita, KSSolo
1976Arman. PeinturesGalerie Beaubourg, Paris, FranceSolo
1976ArmanGalerie Sapone, Nice, FranceSolo
1976Arman1976Galerie Georges-Philippe Vallois, Paris, FranceSolo
1975Arman. Violin-ServiceGalerie Claude Tchou, Paris, FranceSolo
1975Arman. Couscious VandalismJohn Gibson Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1975ArmanJiyugaoka Gallery, Tokyo, JapanSolo
1975ArmanGalerie Valeur, Nagoya, JapanSolo
1975Arman. Originaux et MultiplesGalerie Editions de Messine, Paris, FranceSolo
1975Arman. Lyrical SurfacesAndrew Crispo Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1975ArmanGalerie Beaubourg, Paris, FranceSolo
1975ArmanGalerie Charles Kriwin, Bruxelles, BelgiumSolo
1974ArmanJohn Gibson Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1974ArmanGalleria Schwarz, Milan, ItalySolo
1974Arman. Concrete LyricsAndrew Crispo Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1974Arman. Selected Works : 1958-1974La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CA Group
1974ArmanGalerie Daniel Templon, Paris, FranceSolo
1973Arman. Multiples et AutresGalerie Ferrero, Nice, FranceSolo
1973ArmanGalerie Charles Kriwin, Bruxelles, BelgiumSolo
1973ArmanGalerie Mony Calatchi, Paris, FranceSolo
1973Arman. Selected ActivitiesJohn Gibson Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1973ArmanWhite Gallery, Lausanne, SwitzerlandSolo
1973Arman. RetrospectiveAndrew Crispo Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1973ArmanRosa Esman Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1972ArmanGalerie Guillaume Campo, Anvers, BelgiumSolo
1972ArmanGalerie Alexandre de La Salle, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, FranceSolo
1972Arman. Ordures au NaturelMini-Galerie Carita, Paris, FranceSolo
1971Arman10 Jahre Galerie, Zurich, SwitzerlandSolo
1971ArmanGalerie Alexandre de La Salle, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, FranceSolo
1971ArmanLawrence Rubin Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1971ArmanGalerie Semiha Huber, Zurich, SwitzerlandSolo
1970AmosAnderson Art Museum Helsinki, FinlandSolo
1970Arman Accumulations RenaultKunsthaus, Zurich, SwitzerlandSolo
1970Arman. Recent WorksLawrence Rubin Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1970Arman.The Black PanthersReese Palley Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1970Arman. EditionsGalerie Ilena Sonnabend, Paris, FranceSolo
1970ArmanAce Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
1970ArmanGalerie der Spriegel, Cologne, GermanySolo
1970ArmanGalerie Alexandre de La Salle, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, FranceSolo
1969ArmanGalerie Bonnier, Geneva, SwitzerlandSolo
1969Arman. Les Ustensiles familiersGalerie Ilena Sonnabend, Paris, FranceSolo
1969Arman : 33 AccumulationsStedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsSolo
1969ArmanSvensk-Franska Kontgalleriet, Stockholm, SwedenSolo
1968ArmanGalleria Schwarz, Milan, ItalySolo
1968ArmanSidney Janis Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1967ArmanGalleria La Bussola, Turin, ItalySolo
1967ArmanGalleria Il Punto, Turin, ItalySolo
1967ArmanGalleria Sperone, Turin, ItalySolo
1967ArmanGalerie Claude Tchou, Paris, FranceSolo
1967ArmanPalazzo Grassi, Venice, ItalySolo
1967ArmanGalleria La Bertesca, Genoa, ItalySolo
1967ArmanGalerie Ileana Sonnabend, Paris, FranceSolo
1966ArmanPalais des Beaux-Arts, Bruxelles, BelgiumSolo
1966ArmanSvensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Stockholm, SwedenSolo
1966ArmanGalerie La Vieille Echoppe, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, FranceSolo
1965ArmanGalleria del Leone, Venice, ItalySolo
1965ArmanRichard Feigen Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
1965ArmanGalerie Lawrence, Paris, FranceSolo
1965ArmanMuseum Haus Lange, Krefeld, GermanySolo
1964ArmanStedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The NetherlandSolo
1964ArmanSidney Janis Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1964ArmanWalker Art Center, Minneapolis, MNSolo
1963ArmanGalerie Lawrence, Paris, FranceSolo
1963ArmanSidney Janis Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1963ArmandGalleria Schwarz, Milan, ItalySolo
1962Arman. MontagesDwan Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
1962ArmanGalerie Lawrence, Paris, FranceSolo
1961ArmanCordier-Warren Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1960Arman. Le PleinGalerie Iris Clert, Paris, FranceSolo
1960Arman.Les AccumulationsGalerie Iris Clert, Paris, FranceSolo
1959ArmanGalerie Saint-Germain, Paris, FranceSolo
1959Mostra Personale di ArmanGalleria Appollinaire, Milan,ItalySolo
1958ArmanGalerie Iris Clert, Paris, FranceSolo
1957ArmanGalerie La Roue, Paris, FranceSolo
1955ArmanGouaches, London, UKSolo