Milan, Arman starring in an exhibition at Tornabuoni Arte

From Oct. 5 to Dec. 6, 2019, Tornabuoni Arte in Milan is dedicating an exhibition to Arman, the protagonist of Nouveau Réalisme.

Tornabuoni Arte is dedicating its fall exhibition, from October 5 to December 6, 2019 at its Milan venue, to Arman (Armand Pierre Fernandez; Nice, 1928 - New York, 2005), one of the best-known and most appreciated exponents of Nouveau Réalisme, whose works, marked by a strong environmental value, are perhaps more relevant now than they were at the time of their creation. A monographic exhibition, which chooses to follow the artist’s entire output from the early 1950s onward.

The selected works aim to give a well-rounded idea of the poetics of Arman, who observed reality from its industrial and urban side, highlighting all possible contradictions.

The starting point is the Accumulations of 1953 to arrive at the Dissected Musical Instruments, in a path that is perfectly in tune with contemporary society. Arman firmly believed in the principle of accumulation, and his glass boxes filled with garbage (dust, wires, cheese boxes...) bring visitors back to everyday environmental problems, first and foremost the garbage emergency.

With irreverent and provocative intent, Arman’s accumulations may seem confusing, but on closer inspection they show themselves to be a perfectly controlled whole, the result of the construction of the gaze. “In accumulation Arman tries to capture the essence and give a measure to his surroundings,” points out art historian Rachele Ferrario in the introductory text to the catalog.

In Arman, the idea of accumulation becomes all the more controlled the more we witness his artistic growth. From ensembles of objects of various natures he moves, successively, to stacking objects that are identical to each other, differentiated only by the slightest detail. “Phones, caps, and tubes of color differ from one another by the slightest variation, detail, or inclination, and for this reason the furnishings, beloved, and lists are condemned to remain heterogeneous and never given once and for all,” continues Rachele Ferrario. She adds, “Thinking of rationalizing the world into a list ’of different beauties’ has something crazy about it, it has to do with the desire for the alteration of matter. But it is a characteristic inherent in the spirit of the society of the last century from which mass media would be born, with the shop windows that inspired poets, philosophers and artists from de Chirico to the Surrealists, Neo-Dada and Pop.”

Arman’s poetics thus has a binary development over time. While on the one hand we find the Accumulations, on the other we also find displayed in the exhibition his other workhorse: fragmentations. This is a bold choice, which stands somewhat in opposition to the idea of accumulation. However, it will be Arman himself who will give an explanation for this, saying, “I think that in the desire to accumulate there is inherent a need for security, while in destroying and cutting there is a desire to stop time.”

An idea of materialism and crystallization, then, running in parallel tracks within the same exhibition. One aspect does not exclude the other, and indeed they can be considered complementary in everyday life. Two sides of the same coin, allowing the viewer to open his or her eyes to contemporary society in a path of reflection and awareness.

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Pictured: Arman, Sans titre, 1968, accumulation of resin paint bottles under plexiglass, cm 100x84x16

Source: press release

Milan, Arman starring in an exhibition at Tornabuoni Arte
Milan, Arman starring in an exhibition at Tornabuoni Arte

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