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 Pierre Fernandez (Armand) Arman  (1928 - 2005)

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Lived/Active: New York / France/Italy      Known for: happenings, assemblage, abstraction

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Arman Fernandez is primarily known as Pierre Fernandez (Armand) Arman

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Pierre Arman
from Auction House Records.
ATTILA , 1964
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Pierre Arman, whose birth name was Armand Fernandez, was born in Nice, France in 1928.  His father, an antique dealer and weekend painter, had moved the family from Algeria to southern France.  Best known for his 'assemblages' created from found objects, Arman divided his time between France and the United States.

His first exposure to painting was through his father, who gave him art lessons.  In 1946, he began his painting study at the Ecole Nationale d'Art Decoratif in Nice, where he also earned degrees in mathematics and philosophy.  There he met artists Claude Pascal and Yves Klein, and together they hitchhiked across Europe.  He completed his studies in Nice in 1949, and went on to the Ecole du Louvre, studying oriental art and archaeology.

Some of his first works were in Abstract and Surrealist styles.  At a 1954 exhibition in Paris, Arman was impressed with the works of Kurt Schwitters.  This inspired him to begin working with stamp imprints known as 'cachets'.  Concurrently, he earned a living selling furniture, harpoon fishing, and other odd jobs.  He first exhibited in London and Paris in 1956.  A year later, he traveled to Turkey, Afghanistan, and Persia.

The story of Arman's name change is curious. He was an admirer of the works of Van Gogh, who omitted his first name in signing his paintings.  Thus, Armand Fernandez decided to become simply Armand.  Then in 1958, a Paris gallery, Galerie du Haut-Pave, mistakenly left off the 'd' of Armand.  Upset at first, he later preferred to be known as Arman.  In 1973, he changed his name to Armand Pierre Arman after becoming an U.S. citizen.

Arman began his Accumulations in 1959, where collections of like, everyday objects were crowded together in boxes, or vitrines.  The objects were not arranged, expressing an element of chance in his work.

Along with Yves Klein, the two became founding members of the "Nouveau Realisme", a group interested in creating different and new ways of thinking about real life and art.  Yves Klein opened an exhibition entitled Le in 1958, consisting of empty gallery space to intrigue viewers about non-material things.  Arman responded in 1960 with his exhibition of Le Plein, in which he filled the gallery with debris he collected from the streets of Paris.  These non-utilized items, he believed, had their own distinctive worth, which should not be lost.  In 1961, Arman visited New York City for the first time, and his work was shown as part of an exhibition called The Art of Assemblage at the Museum of Modern Art.

In 1962, after his friend Yves Klein passed away in Paris, Arman began to spend more time in New York City.  His first museum retrospectives occurred in 1964 at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. From the 1970s through the 1990s, his art was primarily created for public participation and display. His largest work, Long Term Parking (1982), was a concrete tower of 60 cars, 65 feet high, standing in front of a suburban parking lot in Paris.

Arman has maintained studios in Paris and New York since 1973.  He died in 2005

Source:
Les Krantz, American Artists
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
http://www.asama.org/ARTISTS/ARMAN.HTM (American Sport Art Museum)
ARTnews, Obituaries, December 2005, p. 92

This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Arman was born in Nice, France on November 17, 1928. He began painting under the guidance of his father at the age of ten, and then studied at Ecole de Louvre and Ecole Nationale des Arts Decoratifs.  He hitch-hiked with Yves Klein and Claude Pascall in Europe in 1947.  He concentrated on Zen Buddhism and astrology from 1947 to 1953. He was an instructor in the Bushido Kai Judo School in Paris in 1951 and served in the French Army in 1952.   

He adopted the name Arman as a result of a printing error in 1958.  He was an instructor at the University of California at Los Angeles from 1967 to 1968 and became a United States citizen in 1972.  He works regularly in Paris and at his major studio and summer residence at Vence.  He accumulates things like a surplus-parts dealer and freezes them in polyester.  Very cool and a bit Dada, Arman's accumulations deliberately arouse no emotions in their viewers, unless possibly pique. His work is found in collections, galleries and museums throughout the United States and Europe.   

Written and compiled by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California

Sources include:   
Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters and Engravers, 1986-87   
Contemporary Artists, 2nd Edition   
Time Magazine, May 14, 1965.



Biography from RoGallery.com:
The French Armand Pierre Fernandez, born in 1928, is a noted international object artist and a co-founder and member of the Nouveau Réalisme.  He studied at the Ecole Nationale des Arts Décoratifs in Nice from 1946 to 1949, and then continued his studies for two years at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris.

An acquaintance with Yves Klein led to the idea of organising joint happenings and events, which the two artists realized in 1953.  Armand's neo-dadaist 'Cachets' (stamp prints) of 1955, and later the 'Allures' (prints made with objects dipped into paint) and the 'Coupés' (cut-up objects) followed by the 'Colères' (objects which were smashed and then mounted) were still influenced by Kurt Schwitters.  When the last letter of his name Armand was accidentally forgotten on a catalogue cover in 1958, he decided to keep this spelling of Arman.

In 1957, Arman became interested in common objects as works of art.  First he did what came to be called his "allures d"objet" (object impressions) where he would dip an object into paint and press it on canvas; thereby leaving the object's shadow or impression.  Then he figured the objects themselves were worth paying attention to, and he started to "treat" them in his own way. 

Arman's way of treating objects is very special: his intention is to remove the material function of an object so that as a work of art its only possible function is to "teed the mind" and not serve a material purpose anymore.  What better way could he find to achieve that result than by breaking, slicing or even burning objects such as a violin, telephone, typewriter or even a whole car.  He also makes objects useless by accumulating them: 2,000 wrist watches in a plexiglass box are fun to watch but not very functional unless you like to "pick your time".

The artist discovered his famous 'Poubelles', Plexiglas cases with rubbish cast in resin, at the beginning of the 1960s.  From the 'Poubelles' Arman developed the so-called 'Accumulations', a number of the same objects assembled in show cases. These arrangements consist mainly of objects of every-day life, with which the artist ironically questions the one-sided waste character of mass products.

Arman began working on the 'Combustiones' (burnt objects) during a stay in New York in 1963.  He accepted a teaching post in Los Angeles in 1967, and taught at the University of California until 1968.  From 1975 onwards Arman spent seven years working on a monumental sculpture made of 60 cars which he called Long Term Parking.

From the mid-1960s, Arman made numerous visits to New York, and he soon came to regard the USA as his second home, taking American citizenship in 1972.  The stocks of new objects that he discovered there directed him towards new and more abstract accumulations.  These culminated in 1967–8 in the Renault Accumulations (e.g. Renault Accumulation No. 106, 1967; see 1986 exh. cat., p. 221), highly sculptural works made from separate pieces supplied by the Renault car factory, and in large-scale commissioned monuments such as Long Term Parking (h. 18 m, 1982–3; Jouy-en-Josas, Fond. Cartier Mus.), a gigantic tower consisting of 60 cars embedded in concrete.

In his later work he also recast some of his earlier Rages and Combustions in bronze, and in another series, Armed Objects, he used concrete as a base in which to fix the object, somewhat in the way he had previously used transparent plastic.  He broadened his imagery to include tools while remaining faithful above all to objects symbolizing the excesses of the consumer society.  Arman was also an avid collector of objects, artefacts and works of art, including watches, radios, cars, European pistols, African carved sculpture (especially Kota guardian figures) and Japanese armour.

The conclusion that Arman is promoting is that once a viewer is emotionally detached from the circumstances associated with a broken violin, one-can grow to appreciate its abstract beauty.  In a sense, Arman is literally teaching that things a person never thought could be regarded as attractive can indeed turn out to be very aesthetic.

Because of this achievement, Arman has come to full worldwide recognition.

Each year for the past eight years Arman has tigured among the top 15 artists in the list of "Top 100" artists of world-renown.  Some of his original works of art are selling at high dollars.  His prints and posters have been used to promote international music festivals, i.e., Luxumberg-1978.

Arman has had over 30 one-man shows in museums all over the world, many TV interviews, and innumerable articles about his work.

Together with Klein, Tinguely, Raysse and César, Arman is one of the most important artists of the Nouveau Réalisme.  Since the 1950s he has been honoured with numerous international exhibitions and has presented works twice at the documenta 3 and 6 in Kassel.

Awards

Officier de la Légion d’Honneur, Grand Prix Marzotto, Commandeur des Arts et Lettres, Officier de l’Ordre National du Merite, Member of the Academia Brera.

Selected Museum Exhibitions

2000
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.

2000-01
Arman: Werke auf Papier, Ludwig Museum, Coblenz, Germany.

2001-02
Arman: Through and Across Objects, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida.

2002
Arman: Works on Paper, Villa Haiss Museum, Zell, Germany

2003
Arman: Arman, Museum of Contemporary Art of Teheran, Teheran, Iran
Marlborough New York, New York City

2004
Omaggio ad Arman Arte Silva, Sergno
Arman - Peinture Marlborough Monaco, Monaco

2005
Hommage a Arman, Galerie Anne Lettree, Paris

2006
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

2008
Arman, Palazzo Bricherasio, Turin

* ADDITIONAL ONE-MAN SHOWS IN MUSEUMS 1967
o Expo '67, Montreal
* 1969
o Musee des Arts Decoratits, Fans Louisiana Museum, Denmark
* 1972
o La Jolla Museum, California
* 1976
o Tel Aviv Museum, Israel

* SELECTED ONE-MAN GALLERY SHOWS 1956
o Galerie Haut Pave, Paris
* 1958
o Galerie Iris Clert, Paris
* 1959
o GalleriaApollinaire, Milan
* 1960
o GalerieSaint-Germain, Paris
* 1961
o Cordier Warren Gallery, New York
o Schwarz Galleria d'Arte, Milan
* 1962
o Galeri'e Autourd'hui, Brussels
o Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles
o Galerie Lawrence, Paris
o Galerie Saqqarah, Gstaad, Switzerland
* 1963
o Galerie "Ad Libitum," Antwerp
o Galerie Altred Schmela, Dusseldorf
o Schwarz Galleria D'Arte, Milan
o Sidney Janis Gallery, New York
o Galerie Lawrence. Paris
* 1964
o Sidney Janis Gallery. New York
* 1965
o Galerie Bonnier, Lausanne
o Galerie Lawrence, Paris
o Galeria del Leone, Venice
* 1966
o Galerie Bonnier, Lausanne
o Svensk Franska Konstgaileriet, Stockholm
* 1967
o Galerie Francoise Mayer, Brussels
o Galleria La Benesca, Genoa
o Galerie des Ponchettes, Nice
o Galerie Ileana Sonnabend, Pans
o Galleria La Bussola, Turin
o Galleria Sperone, Turin
o
Pallazzo Grassi, Venice

Biography from GallArt.com:
French-born American artist Arman told an interviewer in 1968. “I have never been — how do you say it? A dilettante.” Regarded as one of the most prolific and inventive creators of the late 20th century, Arman’s vast artistic output ranges from drawings and prints to monumental public sculpture to his famous “accumulations” of found objects. His work—strongly influenced by Dada, and in turn a strong influence on Pop Art—is in the collections of such institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Born in Nice in 1928, Armand Pierre Fernandez showed a precocious talent for painting and drawing as a child. (Inspired by Vincent van Gogh, he signed his early work with his first name only; he retained a printer’s 1958 misspelling of his name for the rest of his career.) The son of an antiques dealer and amateur cellist, the artist absorbed an intense appreciation for music, the art of collecting and the cultivation of discriminating taste from an early age. After studies at the Ecole Nationale des Arts Décoratifs in Nice, Arman decamped to Paris to study art history at the Ecole du Louvre. His work in these early years focused on abstract paintings inspired by the work of Nicolas de Staël. An avid reader, Arman sought inspiration through books and art reviews, as well as during frequent road trips throughout Europe with his artist friends from Nice, Claude Pascale and Arman, child - French militaryYves Klein. During this period, Arman developed a passion for Eastern philosophy, early Chinese art and the martial art of judo, even working as an instructor at the Bushido Kai judo school in Spain. Additionally, he served two years as an orderly in the French military in Indochina.

Inspired by the Dadaist collages of Kurt Schwitters, Arman’s first solo show, in Paris in 1954, exhibited his Cachets, assemblages and accumulations of stamps and fabric that were to prove an important step in the development of his artistic vision. More consequential yet was his signing, in 1960, of the manifesto of the Nouveau Réalisme (New Realism) movement, with fellow artists Klein, Martial Raysse and Jean Tinguely, among others. “New Realism equals new, sensitive, perceptive approaches to the real,” asserted the document, and Arman set out on a new course, in which he would re-examine the artistic possibilities of everyday objects, elevating the banal to the aesthetic, and refuse into art.

The same year, Arman had a Landmark exhibition at the Iris Clert Gallery in Paris, Full Up (“Le Plein”), an audacious installation/happening that filled the entire gallery with garbage. In 1961, he unveiled yet another of the many “strategies” he would employ over his career: the “colères,” manmade objects he would smash, then reassemble and mount on wood panels. These well-known works, together with his “coupes” (“slicing”)—objects (frequently mass-produced) he would cut apart then put on display—and his “combustions”—objects he set ablaze, and whose charred remains he exhibited—represented acts of artistic creation through destruction. They exemplified the way Arman continually compelled viewers of his work to re-evaluate their ideas with respect to beauty and fine art.

Enamored by the artistic energy of New York in the ’60s, Arman moved into the Chelsea Hotel in 1967, and became an American citizen (adopting the official name of Armand P. Arman) in 1973. As he established himself in New York, his projects became ever more ambitious and prolific, and featured accumulations of tools, clocks, jewelry and countless other materials. He would weld hundreds of these objects together into sculpted formations, some only centimeters high, others filling entire rooms. He would encase the objects in polymer resin to form optically intriguing showcases for them. He was the first contemporary artist to receive commissions from the Renault car company; this collaboration resulted in a series of works using car parts which Arman exhibited at the 1970 World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan. He also drew intense inspiration from the sinuous shapes of string and brass instruments—and harnessed his longstanding appreciation for music—to create countless accumulations and “coupes” of cellos, violins, and trombones; these are perhaps his most widely known works.

Arman brought his techniques to bear on public, monumental sculpture as well. His Long-Term Parking, created in 1982 in the Parisian suburb of Jouy-en-Josas, is a 50-foot-high column of concrete that encases dozens of cars. Yet more monumental is his Hope for Peace (“Espoir de Paix”), commissioned in 1995 by the then Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri to stand alongside the Lebanese Army Headquarters in Beirut. Towering even higher than “Long-Term Parking,” Hope For Peace encases armored vehicles and tanks, whose barrels poke out through the concrete, pointing upwards.

Later in his career, Arman returned to painting. In 1989 he exhibited paintings at New York’s Vrej Baghoomian Gallery and, in 1995, he exhibited a series of paintings inspired by Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” He produced several series of monochrome paintings, often using the paint tubes themselves on the canvases in addition to the paint they contained. In 1991, he unveiled a series of “robot-portraits” of classical composers—from Bach and Beethoven to Wagner and Arman’s contemporary Philip Glass. These large-scale works evoked their subjects through assemblages of such objects as sheet music and instruments.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


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