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Jean Arp was a man of dualities. 

He was German and French. He went by Hans and also Jean. He was Surrealist and Dadaist. He was an artist and a poet. He was crazy and at the same time, incredibly sane. (OK, this is starting to sound like an Alanis Morisette song. Moving right along...)

His lack of secure identity began when he was a child, as his mother was French and his father was German and his name varied based on what language he was speaking at the time. (In German, he was Hans and in French, he was Jean). You can see how this must have been confusing for poor little Jean/Hans but apparently he got used to instability because he founded the most unstable, whimsical, and all-over-the-place art movement ever –Dadaism. It really screwed with everyone’s perception of art and, like most change, was wholeheartedly rejected. One critic stated, “Dada philosophy is the sickest, most paralyzing and most destructive thing that has ever originated from the brain of man.” Seems extreme, no? 

Arp was your classic nomad, traveling from place to place and experimenting with movement after movement. He lived in France, Germany and Switzerland, was a part of Dadaism, Surrealism, and Constructivism and worked with some of the most brilliant artists along the way (namely Kandinsky, Matisse, Max Ernst, Picasso, etc.). But it was in Zürich where he found his lady nomad, Sophie Taeuber. The two traveled partially because they wanted to but also partially because they were trying to escape various wars and drafts. Arp was less than enthused about fighting for his country and in an attempt to escape the draft, he feigned mental illness by writing the date all over the forms he was given and at the bottom of the page added up all the numbers he had written down. I should also mention that he went to the German consulate in his birthday suit to turn in the forms and was promptly told to go home. As draft escape plans go, this is by far the most outlandish...but it was a complete success! It was clear that Arp’s battle was not against the Allies, but against fine art – a battle he fought fiercely and rose from victorious. 

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Jean Arp

Hans Peter Wilhelm Arp (16 September 1886 – 7 June 1966), better known as Jean Arp in English, was a German-French sculptor, painter and poet. He was known as a Dadaist and an abstract artist.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Jean Arp