Défi à Newton (Challenge to Newton)

by Armand Fernandez

£7,600 £6,460

Many of Arman’s early sculptures point to the strangeness inherent in the idea of identical, mass produced objects. Gathering these identical objects together, he distracts us from their functional purpose and presents them instead as endlessly repeated forms – forms which seem to have a deeper meaning that, the processes of modernization, has been lost to us.

DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 17.7 x 11.8 x 3.9 ins/ 45.0 x 30.0 x 10.0 cm
SIGNATURE: Signed and numbered 7/100

MEDIUM: Bronze with golden patina

Armand Fernandez, known as ‘Arman’ was an American-French artist best known for his unique style of found-object sculpture. Inspired by the philosophies and aesthetics of Dadaism, the artist gathered forks, instruments and teapots which he staged within vitrines. ‘I maintain that the expression of junk and objects has an intrinsic value, and I see no need to look for aesthetic forms in them and to adapt them to the colours of the palette,’ he said of his subject matter.

Many of Arman’s early sculptures point to the strangeness inherent in the idea of identical, mass produced objects. Gathering these identical objects together, he distracts us from their functional purpose and presents them instead as endlessly repeated forms – forms which seem to have a deeper meaning that, the processes of modernization, has been lost to us.

Karsten Hesselhoj, September 2010

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Arman is most associated with the Nouveau Réalisme (New Realism) movement that emerged in 1960, and which represented France’s response to the trend of Pop art that was sweeping Europe and the United States. Arman had first emerged as a lyrical abstract painter, but he soon rejected the style and began making sculpture inspired by the concept of the readymade. Arman’s most notable work was preoccupied with the consequences of mass production: his Accumulations often reflected on the identical character of modern objects; his Poubelles, or “trash cans,” considered the waste that results when these objects are discarded; and his Coleres, or “rages,” expressed an almost irrational rage at objects that, in modern times, threatened to dominate everyday life. At his best, Arman delivered a powerful and chilling rejection of modernization and the culture of mass consumption. Later, he developed an aesthetic based on the act of destruction, his pieces commemorating the obliteration objects in various ways.

Arman was born Armand Pierre Fernandez to Marie Jacquet and Antonio Fernandez in 1928. In his early years, Arman lived alone with Marie, who did not marry Antonio until Arman was five, and during those years he often relied on his own imagination and invention to occupy himself. Learning to play chess at the age of eight, Arman retained an interest in games of strategy throughout his life.

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    This work is featured in the ‘Arman: Catalogue Raisonné’ by Denyse Durand-Ruel, Paris: 1991

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