Jean Arp (born Hans Peter Wilhelm Arp) ranks as one of modernist art's key artists. The Franco-German artist first studied in Weimar and subsequently in Paris. In 1912 he went to Munich where he met Wassily Kandinsky and helped write the book Der Blaue Reiter.
Arp participated in the 1912 Blaue Reiter exhibition in Munich and the second Moderner Bund exhibition in Zurich in 1913. Furthermore Arp supplied drawings for the innovative Berlin magazine Der Sturm, a mouthpiece for the avant-garde artists of the day. In 1914 he met Apollinaire, Picasso and Modigliani in Paris, and the following year.
In order to dodge the draft during World War I, he moved to Zurich where he met and married Sophie Taeuber. Both were co-founders of the Dada group which sprang up in Zurich around the German author Hugo Ball's Cabaret Voltaire in 1916.
Arp's first abstract wooden reliefs are from this period. After the War Arp collaborated with the Dada group in Berlin and with the Dadaist Kurt Schwitters in Hannover. In 1920 he moved to Paris where he contributed to the international Dada exhibition in 1922 as well as the first Surrealism exhibition in 1925.
At the end of the 1920s Arp's reliefs continued to grow in scale, and around 1930 he began working on actual free-standing sculpture. In 1939 at the outbreak of World War II he began signing his works Jean Arp, and when the Germans occupied Paris he took refuge in Switzerland.
During the War he exhibited at Peggy Guggenheim's "Art of This Century Gallery" in New York. In 1958 Arp's first retrospective exhibition is held at Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1954 he received the Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennial. Arp spent the last years of his life travelling a lot, receiving a number of distinctions and large-scale orders, including the execution of a relief outside UNESCO's headquarters in Paris.
Arp is represented in museums all over the world, including Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Museum of Modern Art in New York, National Gallery of Art in Washington, National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Kunsthaus Zürich, Kunstmuseum Basel, Reina Sofia National Museum in Madrid, Tate Gallery in London, National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa og Louisiana in Humlebæk.