Painter and sculptor, among the representatives of the Nouveau Réalisme(New Realism movement), in the early fifties Arman began to create his first Cachets and Allures in 1959, variants of Cachets, consisting of fingerprints made on the canvas with a variety of objects previously immersed in the color. In the same year he began to create his Colères, compositions of broken objects, especially musical instruments, and its Accumulations, assemblages of objects of consumption or rejection.
After receiving the degree in philosophy and mathematics in 1946, Arman began studying at the École Nationale des Arts Décoratifs in Nice. He also started judo at a police school in Nice where he met Yves Klein and Claude Pascal. After completing his studies in 1949, Arman studied at the École du Louvre in Paris, where he concentrated on the study of archaeology and oriental art. Early on, it was apparent that Arman’s concept of the accumulation of vast quantities of the same objects was to remain a significant component of his art.Inspired by an exhibition for the German Dadaist, Kurt Schwitters, in 1954, Arman began working on Cachets, his first major artistic undertaking.
At his third solo exhibition, held in Paris’s Galerie Iris Clert in 1958, Arman showed some of his first accumulations he called Cachets. These stamps on paper and fabric proved a success and provided an important change of course for the young artist’s career. A beautiful example of this phase of his research is the artwork Sans Titre, dated 1976, where the accumulation of prints also welcomes traces of different colors. From 1959 to 1962, Arman developed his most recognizable style, beginning with his two most renowned concepts: Accumulation and Poubelle. Accumulations were collections of common and identical objects which he arranged in polyester castings or within Plexiglas cases. The Poubelles were collections of strewn refuse. In 1960, he filled the Galerie Iris Clert in Paris with garbage, creating Le Plein as a counterpoint of the exhibition called Le Vide at the same gallery two years earlier by his friend Yves Klein. These artworks began to garner the attention of the European art community.In October 1960, Arman, Yves Klein, François Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, Martial Raysse, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely and Jacques Villeglé, and art critic Pierre Restany, founded the Nouveau Réalisme group. Joined later by Cesar, Mimmo Rotella, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Christo, the group of young artists defined themselves as bearing in common their “new perspective approaches of reality“.
They were reassessing the concept of art and the artist for a 20th-century consumer society by reasserting the humanistic ideals in the face of industrial expansion. In 1961, Arman made his debut in the United States and during this period, he explored creation via destruction. The Coupes and the Colèresfeatured sliced, burned, or smashed objects arranged on canvas, often using objects with a strong “identity” such as musical instruments (mainly violins and saxophones) or bronze statues. As a fusion’s example of Colères and Poubelles is the artwork Clic clac, a destroyed photographic machine in an inclusion of Plexiglas, dated 1971. In New York Arman met famous artists like Warhol and Duchamp, and there he began to work on large public sculptures. During the Seventies he continues his experimental research, now dedicating himself to the inclusion of his classical materials into concrete platforms, called Beton in technical jargon. In the Eighties the range of his works and techniques becomes wider: he declines and multiplies the various executive procedures: combustion plus bronze, brush-stroke painting, dirty paintings, shooting colours. In the late Nineties his works consist of a succession of gestures referred to the object. In 2010-2011 at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and at the Museum Tinguely, Basel, were held two important retrospectives dedicated to the whole research of the artist.