Born in Nice on 17 November 1928, Armand Fernandez, commonly known only as Arman, was one of the most prominent artists on the international scene in the second half of the 20th century.
Growing up among the objects in his father’s antique shop, he started painting at the age of 10. From his father he learnt oil painting and photography. In 1946, after a degree in philosophy and mathematics, he entered the École Nationale des Arts Décoratifs in Nice. Here, the meeting with Yves Klein and Claude Pascal is a pivotal moment in the 19-year-old artist’s life. The three became fraternal friends and began to experience exhilarating moments together – They set off on a road trip through Europe, during which Arman began to study philosophy, Buddhism and astrology.
In 1949, he enrolled at the École du Louvre in Paris as a student of archaeology and oriental art.
Arman and the New Realism
In 1957 he changed his name from Armand to Arman.
From abstract paintings with time Arman focuses his art on the physical object to his own accumulation of the same – He thus realises accumulations of real objects or waste products of society. The Poubelles series created in 1959 and Accumulation are magnificent examples.
After meeting Pierre Restany and Cesar, in 1960 he signed the manifesto of the movement called Nouveau Réalisme (New Realism), so called by Pierre Restany, the group’s inspirer and leading critic. With him Yves Klein, Francois Dufrene, Raymond Hains, Martial Raysse, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tiguely and Jacques Villeglé, Cesar, Mimmo Rotella, Niki de Saint Phalle and Christo.
From 1961 onwards, he devoted himself to the decomposition of subjects using the découpage technique. In 1962, he began to weld (join) together accumulations of similar metal objects, such as axes, and he also deepened his research into many bronzes, which led to the creation of Combustions in 1963. His attention turned to the assembly of mechanical elements in the following two years.
In 1973, he became an American citizen and took the name Armand Pierre Arman, while continuing to use the name Arman publicly.
He also became affiliated with the ZERO art movement based in Germany.
Arman and Andy Warhol
Arman takes part in Warhol’s film ‘Dinner at Daley’s’, a dinner by artist Daniel Spoerri (INTERNAL LINK), a performance recorded on 5 March 1964. Arman is seated throughout the film, seen from the side, looking down enraptured by the reading and making only small gestures.
Arman and New York
Attracted by the charms of the Big Apple Arman meets Duchamp at a dinner party. He lives first at the famous Chelsea Hotel and then on Church Street with a studio in the Bowery.
Here he starts working on large public sculptures with still large expressions of ‘Accumulations’. Hence ‘Long Term Parking’ in France, ‘Hope for Peace’ in Beirut.
Arman Fernandez died in New York in 2005, on 22 October.