Anne and Farouk

Anne and the dog Farouk, c. 1958.


When comes January 1956, ARMAN, who has been painting since the family moved to the "Parc de la Californie" in Nice, has his first exhibition at the gallery Haut-Pavé located opposite to the Notre Dame church in Paris; where he shows his gouaches. Claude Rivière is the gallery's director; it's not yet an enormous success but it puts “the foot with the clamp”.

Arman and Éliane take advantage of their trip there to get their first car which will have a place of major importance in their story (until the very end, Arman liked to talk about it every time he was questioned about this period of his life).

The question of the money is omnipresent at this period and therefore also for their roundtrip journeys to Paris. At the time of this exhibition, they pick up their Citroën 2CV with which they'll make their return trip to Nice. In one of the hardest winters in decades, with snowdrifts everywhere and Arman (it's all him!) decides to go override adversity at any cost to fulfill his desire: to get back home!
Between Aix-en-Provence and Cannes, car "cadavers" lay everywhere in the snowdrifts. The family legend says they were the only ones to arrive to destination that day!

Only to find out when they arrive that Arman's first collection is completely destroyed: that of his cactus plants. The succulents had not resisted through their absence and the harsh weather.
Was this some kind of metaphorical warning of all the bad news that was to come in this year 1956?

Anne, the second born daughter, must undergo a big surgical operation of her hip.

Arman's parents have a terrible car accident, leaving Arman's mother unable to walk for a year.

A few days after Anne comes out of hospital, Éliane is diagnosed with a tuberculosis that keeps her away.

She leaves to a sanatorium and a brand new family organization will have to set itself up.

This separation will last one year.

Farouk, the faithful four legs companion, is so ill he has to be put down.  

Arman letter to Eliane Radigue

Undated. 1956.
I am sliced into two, disgusted. I am fed up with all this.
Everything is running through my fingers, I fight until the end without
hope: my mother takes an increasingly waxy look and I
feel her vitality quickly declines, it will be more and more difficult
for her to walk if it is not already too late; I don't give
details on Farouk, he smells of death at full nose I wonder
how he's still holding, it's a wall collapsing in my universe;
Painting is also taking a serious hit and
if the wall has not fallen to the ground yet, it is nevertheless
very damaged and I am deeply tired.
I love you I miss you