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Arp, Hans  

Greta Stroeh

[Jean] (Peter Wilhelm)

(b Strassburg, Germany [now Strasbourg, France], Sept 16, 1886; d Basle, Switzerland, June 7, 1966).

French sculptor, painter, collagist, printmaker, and poet of German birth. The son of a German father and French Alsatian mother, he developed a cosmopolitan outlook from an early age and as a mature artist maintained close contact with the avant-garde throughout Europe. He was a pioneer of abstract art and one of the founders of Dada in Zurich, but he also participated actively in both Surrealism and Constructivism. While he prefigured junk art and the Fluxus movement in his incorporation of waste material, it was through his investigation of biomorphism and of chance and accident that he proved especially influential on later 20th-century art in liberating unconscious creative forces.

Following a brief period at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Strasbourg (1900–01), Arp received instruction from 1901 from a friend and neighbour, the painter and printmaker Georges Ritleng (1875–1972). He then attended the Kunstschule in Weimar (1904–7) and the Académie Julian in Paris (...

Article

Saitō, Yoshishige  

Shin’ichiro Osaki

(b Tokyo, May 4, 1904; d Yokohama, June 13, 2001).

Japanese painter and sculptor. Self-taught as an artist, in the 1920s he met David Burlyuk and others involved with such movements as Futurism, Constructivism and Dada. From 1931 Saitō concentrated on a career as an artist, initially producing Constructivist reliefs. At that time a celebrated incident occurred when he refused to exhibit pieces at the Nikakai (Second Division Society) exhibition on the grounds that his pieces were neither painting nor sculpture: he was first chosen for the Nikakai exhibition in 1936. In 1938, together with Jirō Yoshihara and Takeo Yamaguchi (1902–83), he established the ‘Room Nine Society’ (Kyūshitsukai) with artists of the Nikakai whose works tended towards abstraction. He collaborated on Toro-wood, a series of reliefs (c. 1939) destroyed in World War II (for reconstruction see 1984 exh. cat., p. 54). During the war he was persecuted by the military authorities for his avant-garde activities....

Article

Schwitters, Kurt  

Richard Humphreys

(Herman Edward Karl Julius)

(b Hannover, June 20, 1887; d Kendal, Westmorland, England, Jan 8, 1948).

German painter, sculptor, designer and writer. He studied at the Kunstakademie in Dresden (1909–14) and served as a clerical officer and mechanical draughtsman during World War I. At first his painting was naturalistic and then Impressionistic, until he came into contact with Expressionist art, particularly the art associated with Der Sturm, in 1918. He painted mystical and apocalyptic landscapes, such as Mountain Graveyard (1912; New York, Guggenheim), and also wrote Expressionist poetry for Der Sturm magazine. He became associated with the Dada movement in Berlin after meeting Hans Arp, Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch and Richard Huelsenbeck, and he began to make collages that he called Merzbilder. These were made from waste materials picked up in the streets and parks of Hannover, and in them he saw the creation of a fragile new beauty out of the ruins of German culture. Similarly he began to compose his poetry from snatches of overheard conversations and randomly derived phrases from newspapers and magazines. His mock-romantic poem ...