For ADAA The Art Show 2017, Sperone Westwater presents work by Arman (1928-2005) from the decade 1960–1970, primarily his “Accumulations,” a radical series of sculptures in which like objects (trash or mass-produced) were assembled and presented in simple vitrines. His Accumulations were first seen in the exhibition Le Plein at the Iris Clert Galerie, Paris, in October 1960, a legendary succès de scandale.
Arman recalled the genesis of this signature series: “The first true accumulation of objects was an accumulation of radio tubes. I had bought them for ten francs for the purpose of inking them and smashing them against canvases. I therefore had cases of radio tubes. And in 1959, the sight of these accumulated radio tubes, all black, shiny, and silver, enclosed within a space, during a period when I was interested in trash—this sight was the point of departure for my accumulations.”
Born Armand Pierre Fernandez in Nice, Arman retained a printer’s 1958 misspelling of his name for the rest of his life. Following early training in the École Nationale de des Arts Décoratifs de Nice, Arman met Yves Klein in 1947 in the judo school of the Nice police, and their friendship would profoundly inform his artistic development and contribute to his early embrace of ZERO. In October 1960, the declaration of Nouveau Réalisme was drafted by Pierre Restany, and signed by Arman among many others, prompting his classification as a New Realist.
On 5 July 1961, Arman took part in the event “ZERO—Edition, Exposition, Demonstration” in front of Galerie Schmela, involving over one thousand people. Writing in “ZERO 3,” published simultaneously, Arman described his artistic research as having been “made necessary by the deficiency and weariness of hedonistic paintings and action paintings.” He began living part-time in New York that year and made his US debut in October at The Museum of Modern Art, where he was included in William Seitz’s exhibition “The Art of Assemblage.”
Sperone Westwater’s presentation of Arman’s “Accumulations” dating from 1960-1970, will focus on this formative decade, including many artworks incorporating diverse materials, such as Plexiglas and resin, as well as mechanical components. This presentation clarifies Arman’s innovative contributions to the creative ferment of this period, as well as his ongoing influence on subsequent generations of artists.