Art Historian, PhD Candidate at Universität Heidelberg and École du Louvre, Paris
Hans Arp’s monumental sculptural commissions – synthesis of the arts in Harvard (1950), Caracas (1953) and Paris (1958) in the historical context of the 1950s
This research project is dedicated to the monumental sculptures that Hans Arp designed in the 1950s for the Graduate Center of Harvard University, the university city in Caracas and UNESCO in Paris. The works of art created by Arp for these commissions were conceived in close collaboration with the architects, who were responsible not only for the buildings but also for their artistic design in the sense of the integration and synthesis of the arts.
The aim of the research project is to analyse the creation of the three art works in the context of their respective historical and cultural-political contexts. In addition, the background to the execution of the three emblematic modernist building complexes with their rich artistic programme of paintings and sculptures by some of the most important architects of the 20th century will be explored. The site-specific works of art were also commissioned from well-known sculptors and painters of post-war modernism, working mostly non-figurativly, so that the entire projects can be seen as witnesses to the triumph of Modernism both in the field of architecture and in that of the fine arts.
Art Historian, PhD Candidate at The Institute of Fine Arts, New York
Sophie Taeuber-Arp and The Human Body
The artistic analysis of human body plays an important role in Sophie Taeuber-Arp’s oeuvre, encapsulating the artist’s unique combination of abstract geometric forms and figurative subject matter. In her doctoral dissertation “Animated Geometries: Abstraction and the Body in the Work of Paul Klee, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Joaquín Torres-García, and Alexandra Exter” Francesca Ferrari explores Taeuber-Arp’s depiction of the human figure and analyzes its relation to her geometric visual idiom. She argues that Taeuber-Arp, alongside artists such as Paul Klee, Joaquín Torres-García, and Alexandra Exter, pioneered an aesthetics that posits regular mathematical structures and the erratic, organic human body as complementary, rather than mutually exclusive. Ferrari suggests that the body functions as a subtext of Taeuber-Arp’s oeuvre in the 1920s, whereby the artist either represents the human figure or summons the viewer’s senses through phenomenological and kinetic effects. Klee, Taeuber-Arp, Torres-García, and Exter embraced the structures’ potential to relate to the physicality of the body in order to “animate” the work of art phenomenologically and activate the viewer. Their approach carries vital political implications, as it resists several of the dominant trends of the postwar period that similarly combine regular structures and the body (e.g. anthropometry and motion studies) to represent the human figure as a stable, knowable entity subject to study, classification, and potentially, elimination. By generating dialectical relations between the human figure and geometric forms, these artists simultaneously conferred vitality on abstract compositions and rendered the body a dynamic assemblage of shifting signs.
While circumscribed to the period between 1918 and 1930, this dissertation ties into pressing contemporary conversations about the body’s resistance to epistemological paradigms.
DR. DELPHINE GRASS
Literary Historian and Translator, Lancaster University
Moving Lines: Translation as Performnce in Hans/Jean Arp
Dr. Delphines Grass will work on two projects during her fellowship: one creative non-fiction essay and one academic monograph.
I/Archive, can be described as both an intellectual essay on the lost archive and a family memoir on multilingual life at the Alsace and Lorraine borderland. Using the hybrid genre of creative criticism, the essay explores the role of translation in the construction and transmission of transnational memory. The essay interweaves Grass’s own familial archive (in the form of letters, but also oral history) with the research she has already undertaken on writers and artists from this region for the past four years, including Hans/Jean Arp. For the section of the essay she will develop during her stay at the Arp Stiftung e.V., the aim is to research the relationship between Arp’s sculpture and ancient Greek statues and to focus specifically on the different representations of nudity each embody. The purpose of this research will be to explore the form of bareness characteristic of Arp’s works in the context of what Giorgio Agamben calls the ‘bare life’ of stateless persons.
Moving Lines: Translation as Performance in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Artistic Practice: The monograph will explore the concept of‘performative translations’, which Delphine Grass will define as translations which either perform their translatedness or use fictional translation as a creative trope. The book will explore the role of translation in avant-garde practices which reflect on or represent displacement and exile through their material practices.
Moving Lines will pay particular attention to literary and intersemiotic translations which have either rejected, questioned or transcended the political terms of displacement in which human and cultural transfers are traditionally performed and negotiated in nationalist contexts. One section of this book will focus on the early twentieth-century European avant-garde, and more specifically on the use of translation as practice in the works of Kurt Schwitters, Marcel Duchamp and Hans/Jean Arp. This chapter aims to demonstrate the extent to which translation was of central concern to avant-garde writers and visual artists and often provided a way of reflecting on the forms of displacement produced by capitalist modernity.
DR. ELKE SEIBERT
Art Historian, Post-Doc Research Associate, Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte Paris
Arp’s works in discourse with the prehistoric era in New York (1930-40). „Prehistoric Rock Pictures in Europe and Africa“ (1937) at the Museum of Modern Art and the re-appropriation of prehistoric art concepts in the USA
Hans Arp’s works “Mountain, Navel, Anchors, Table” (1925) and “Two Heads” (1927) were exhibited in 1937 by Alfred H. Barr at the Museum of Modern Art in conjunction with prehistoric paintings and engravings. With this visionary concept, Barr referred back to existing discourses on modernism and prehistory in Europe and took up current trends of the New York avant-garde.
It was no coincidence that he chose these works by Arp. Their pictorial qualities reflect characteristics that have found their way into American art through the appropriation of prehistoric art concepts, artifacts and architecture. The second reason for Barr’s choice of these two works can be seen in the appreciation of Arp’s art by the New York avant-garde. For the reception and transformation of European artworks by American artists, the access to or the exhibition of original artworks was often decisive. Even Arp’s art can only “function” to a limited extent in technical reproduction. Elke Seibert’s research therefore also focuses on the media difference between the original and the reproduction, on the aura and unity of the original, which influenced the prehistoric discourse in New York around 1937.
Barr’s exhibition cycle on so-called “Primitivism” (1935-37) is still the subject of art historical research today. Thus, the knowledge of the overall concept of Barr’s Prehistoric Rock Pictures in Europe and Africa (1937) is intended to place the reception of the archaic in Arp’s work on an expanded source basis. Arp referred to primal forces and to a timeless, universal artistic creation, something that has not remained hidden from artists in the United States. Barr’s visionary conception, which combined prehistory with the present, prehistory with modernity, resulted from contemporary discourses on time and the longing for a new beginning in the fine arts, legitimised by the past and by nature. The construction of a prehistoric era opened up a projection space for the longed-for new beginning in the art of the interwar years, on both sides of the Atlantic, which is analyzed in terms of temporalization, authenticity, materiality, transfer, and artistic practices in the context of this fellowship.
MARTHA W. SWETZOFF
Freelance Film/Video-Maker and Media Designer
Bringing Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber to life for scripted television
Martha Swetzoff develops a scripted series for television and an accompanying novel that show the creation of the Cabaret Voltaire from the point of view of the two primary woman involved: Emmy Hennings and Sophie Taeuber. By literally changing the lighting and the lens on the group of Zurich Dadas the project will show the vital roles played by these two women. This focus on the female point of view is supported by new research and the audience’s interest in both of these women. Within the arc of the eight episodes Swetzoff develops the evolution of Hans Arp’s and Sophie Taeuber’s relationship ; their collaborations; their connection to Hugo Ball and Emmy; and the impact both had on the collaborative performances at the Voltaire.