"Time doesn't exist. It doesn't exist in any way. It's more subjective than real. Time doesn't exist. I believe in memory. Memory is the real inspiration. Memory creates time. Memory is pure power. Pure power and pure strength, and pure utilization of space and time (if time is something we can really ever label). But I don't believe in time itself."
Renowned for his boundless creativity and unparalleled output, Armand Fernandez—known as Arman since the day a printer dropped the “d” of his name in a catalogue— was born in Nice, France, in 1928. His formative years were steeped in an environment of music, and collecting, courtesy of his father's role as an antiques dealer and amateur cellist. After pursuing art history at the École du Louvre in Paris, Arman's early artistic endeavors centered on abstract paintings inspired by Nicolas de Staël.
Along with luminaries Yves Klein and Jean Tinguely, Arman was a member of the groundbreaking Nouveau Réalisme group founded in 1960—a movement meant to redefine artistic perspectives in the face of a consumer-driven society. His own singularly diverse oeuvre includes drawings, prints, collages, and monumental public sculptures. Arman is best known for his iconic “Accumulations" series—sculptural pieces and wall- reliefs made of found objects. These works comprise strategic assemblages or arrangements of shower hoses, ladles, sofas, paint tubes, gas masks, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, statues, or, for example, a pyramid of black rotary telephones and a canvas covered with thick paint brushes loaded with paint. Often, Arman smashed, flattened, burned, sawed, or chopped these pieces, sometimes casting them in bronze, or sinking them into concrete blocks. Other series, offer more formal sequences featuring musical instruments such as violins or trumpets carefully positioned on wooden pedestals.
Initially, Arman garnered acclaim in 1960 with a series of installations titled “Poubelles” the first of which consisted of filling the Galerie Iris Clerc’s space up to the windowsills with a curated trove of Parisian garbage. In other early bodies of work, inspired by the collages of German Dadaist Kurt Schwitters and other Surrealist attributes, he created abstract compositions he called Cachets upon which he orchestrated patterns from rubber stamps, drips, and splashes of paint from various objects which he rolled around over fabric or paper.
Arman’s move to New York City in 1961 further fueled his exploration, leading to large-scale public sculptures, including the monumental “Long Term Parking” and the 106-foot-high “Hope for Peace,” commissioned by the Lebanese government, —a concrete tower in Beirut in which he buried 78 tanks, jeeps, and various pieces of artillery. Arman died in 2005 in New York.
His extensive exhibition history includes major retrospectives and exhibitions at renowned international institutions that include Centre Pompidou in Paris (2010–11,) the Brooklyn Museum and Detroit Museum of Art (1991); and the Stedeliljk Museum, Amsterdam (1969). Arman's works are held in public collections worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, New York; Fine Arts Museums, San Francisco, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Tate Gallery London; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris