Hans Arp (16 September 1886 – 7 June 1966) was a German-French sculptor, painter, poet and abstract artist in other media such as torn and pasted paper. Arp was born in Strasbourg, the son of a French mother and a German father, during the period following the Franco-Prussian War when the area was known as Alsace-Lorraine (Elsass-Lothringen in German) after it had been returned to Germany by France.
Following the return of Alsace to France at the end of World War I, French law determined that his name become Pierre Henri Arp. In 1904, after leaving the École des Arts et Métiers in Strasbourg, he went to Paris where he began his career as a painter and sculptor, working in a Cubist style.
He later moved into a Post-Impressionist style and, during the 1920s, became associated with several socialist groups. He lived for a time in the Bauhaus community in Dessau, Germany, where he collaborated with other artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, and became friends with Piet Mondrian. However, due to his own artistic beliefs (and the rise of the Nazi party in Germany), Arp moved to Paris in 1933.
He finally settled in Meudon-Val Fleury, where he joined with other artists in founding the Abstraction-Création group in 1931. In the 1930s he began making works in which he attached relief-printed fabric to arms, legs and torsos of live models. They are funny, provocative, and sometimes alarming. His first solo show was held at Galerie Pierre in Paris in 1922, followed by several other exhibitions in the 1920s. By the mid-1920s, Arp’s works were being exhibited in both Paris and New York, and he had become friends with a number of the leading Surrealist artists, including André Breton and Joan Miró.
In 1925, Arp met Sophie Taeuber-Arp, also an artist, with whom he collaborated on a number of artistic projects. In 1926 they were married, and in 1930 they moved to Meudon-Val Fleury, where they continued to live and work together until her death in 1943.
Arp’s work was included in the exhibitions of the Surrealist group in Paris in 1925 and 1932, and he took part in the international exhibitions of Surrealism in London in 1936 and New York in 1938. His work was also included in the landmark 1937 exhibition ‘Cubism and Abstract Art’ at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Arp died in 1966, at the age of 79, in Basel, Switzerland. His work is included in major public and private collections around the world.