Je suis rage!
DAMAGE Control

My tender Éliane...
El dynamitero...
Arman watching the combustion of the car after the explosion. “LA TULIPE“ 2001
Spitfire Triumph, combustion of the car after the explosion. “LA TULIPE“ 2001
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 98,4 x 200,8 x 51,2 MEDIUM: White MG car explosed on a white panel.


In 2001, the Nice Modern and Contemporary Museum (MAMAC) dedicated a retrospective to the Nice-born artist called : « Arman, Passage à l’acte ». The catalog’s cover reproduces a photograph of the artist posing in front a dynamited car at the end of its burning process, right in the middle of a quarry in Vence (near Nice).
Performed on March 30th 2001 in front of the cameras of the local TV channel France 3, this operation gave birth to a work called « La Tulipe ». It echoes the « Orchidée Blanche » (The white orchid), another automobile destroyed in the same conditions in May 1963, near Essen, Germany.
Arman's creative identity was largely based on the exploitation and on the methodical declination of this principle of the irreversible destruction of the object as an artistic activation process. The artist makes his first breaks in 1959 as part of the practice of « Allures », obtained by the projection of inked objects on two-dimensional supports. He speaks of a "very violent" gesture, creating what he calls « accidents »  ¹ See Arman, in Alain Jouffroy, « Arman », interview with the artist, L’Œil, Paris, n° 126, june 1965, p. 26..
In retrospect, these productions have been designated under the term of « Allures-Colères », in reference to a series of objects that appeared in 1961: « Les Colères d’objets », pieces also destroyed by projection or crushing. Also in 1961, Arman opts for a seemingly more rational destructive modality with the series called « Coupes » (Cuts), which presents objects segmented and cut by the use of a manual or electric chain saw.
In 1963, are created the « Explosions » i.e dynamited objects which spectacularly prolong the process of the « Colères ». According to the critic Otto Hahn, the following year, with the series called « Combustions », Arman reaches the « ultimate stage of destructive intervention »  ² See Otto Hahn, Arman, Paris, Hazan, coll. « Ateliers d’aujourd’hui », 1972, p. 48..


So will the pitcher...
An “abstract“ Rage. What is not visible is the shattered container (the pitcher).
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 37 x 29,5 MEDIUM: Smashed jar of paint on wood panel.
Raw Rage: here, the fragments of the broken object are fixed closer to their fall.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 30,7 x 23,2 x 2,8 MEDIUM: Smashed mandolin on wood panel.
The double dating of the piece which attests to the original decision of the curious and permanent exploration of the gesture.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 24 x 22,4 x 6,7 MEDIUM: Explosed coffee pot on panel.
A testimonial piece the concern about the consumer society and planned obsolescence.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 59,8 x 43,9 x 15,7 MEDIUM: Smashed radio cabinet on a black wood panel.

The artist will eventually adopt other modes of operation often combined  ³ On the origins of the main practices developed by Arman since the 1950s, please see our online analysis « Les féminins d’Arman, des Cachets aux Interactifs », 1957-2005, Genève, Fondation A.R.M.A.N., 2016 (Préface de Cécile Debray), accompanying the exhibition « Arman. L’Eternel féminin », presented by the Musée Arman in 2016., like « Sandwich-Combos » (objects interposed between Cups, from 1997) or « Fragmentations » (progressive declensions of Cups of identical objects, from 1998).


Applied to two sets of watering cans in 1999, the latter procedure confronts the cutting process with that of the accumulation of objects of a single type, accumulation being still too often the only recognized type of contribution of Arman. It should be noted that this quantitative orientation followed from the spring of 1959 onwards still implies an attack on the object, at least of small size. Because, once crossed the « critical threshold » of the accumulation, its functional identity tends to disappear in favor of a monochrome effect well identified by the one who will define himself as a « para-sculptor »  « It’s by accident that I make three dimensional things using objects. Therefore, I’m a sort of para-sculptor », explique l’artiste (Arman, dans Dominik Rimbault, Arman. Portrait of a sculptor, Centre national des arts plastiques/Centre Georges Pompidou, 52 min, 1998). : « « [...] I have always claimed that in the accumulation there was a change, the quantity creates the change, the object is canceled as an object. It becomes a kind of grain, surface, monochrome : [...] it demolishes a little the identity » Arman, in A. Jouffroy, « Arman », op. cit., p. 26.. In this sense only, breaking and piling up do not fall under « the rigorously reversed processes » Pierre Restany, « Arman et la logique formelle de l’objet », Arman, cat. exp., Bruxelles, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 1966, n. p., as Pierre wrote Restany in 1966.

The critical threshold
Translated into the arrangement of Cut fragments, the attraction for abstraction formalizes the accumulative preoccupation.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 10 x 9,6 x 2,4 MEDIUM: Sliced statuette embedded into polyester on a red wood panel.
Provided they do not have a significant historical or artistic value, all objects can become the object of his destructuring attention.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 47,6 x 15 x 5,1 MEDIUM: Sliced coffee pot on wood panel.
Slice of life, sliced life: the heroine with the égoïne. (égoïne is a saw)
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 13,4 x 4,7 x 2,8 MEDIUM: Sliced statuette (Jeanne d’Arc).
The recurrence of the destruction of objects in Arman's production, at the origin of several thousand pieces, has led authors to question the foundations of the artist's approach, to finally correlate it to a « mental predisposition » or « physical » one to destruction. « […] the problem of the « Colères » ("Rages") is central in Arman's work, as in his personality », indicates Pierre Restany in 1967-1968, in the preface to Henry Martin's monograph dedicated to the artist. « Aggressiveness and anxiety are just the motivations affective of a massive energy, a power of work that even before 'Art', seeks to liberate oneself, to express oneself, to take root in the real », as he further writes, before evoking the « assured way » of a man « beyond his surface instability which is also an energetic motivation »  P. Restany, « Arman », Henry Martin, Arman, Paris, Pierre Horay, 1973, p. 13, 15. Texte de 1967-1968..
In 1987, the critic Bernard Lamarche-Vadel connects the destruction of objects by Arman to an « obsession for the materialization of the categories of time confronted by the work of art » See Bernard Lamarche-Vadel, Arman, Paris, La Différence, coll. « Mains et Merveilles », 1987, p. 68.. This link between destruction and temporality is already established in 1972 by Otto Hahn, who then invokes the artist's « anxiety » linked to the impossibility « to retain the time, the moment », but also « to possess and retain » objects that have become cumbersome as soon as they are produced and acquired See O. Hahn, Arman, op. cit., p. 20-21.. In 1993, Pierre Cabanne goes into the same direction by making the “Armanian“ destruction an attempt to control the overproduced object, in reaction to the progressive narrowing of our living space. The critic identifies another cause of destruction, in this case the artist's own violence, who is presented as a man both « anguished and aggressive » ¹⁰ See Pierre Cabanne, Arman, Paris, La Différence, coll. « Classique du XXIe siècle », 1993, p. 25..
Violence ?...
In 2008, the journalist Christine Siméone also refers to Arman's « existential anguish » and « violence », evoking his energy of permanent rage, without any lull, « and presenting him as a roaring animal, full of life, always conquering the world, to overcome this insidious and recurring worry ».
The author also describes the artist as a « hypochondriac, with a tendency to gloomy feeling. A worrier under control. […] who cannot stand intrusion into his vital space », before pointing out his « Dark and self-destructive » side ¹¹ Christine Siméone, Elianarman. Bye Bye ma muse, Genève, Fondation A.R.M.A.N., 2008, p. 53, 170..
Two years later, Emmanuelle Ollier writes that modes of intervention Arman on the subject « clearly indicates his propensity to celebrate violence », the physical master of his work « directly echoing the explosive temperament of the artist, who holds an exceptional vital force » ¹² Emmanuelle Ollier, « Arman et l’esprit du Bushido. La quête du geste parfait », Jean-Michel Bouhours (dir.), Arman, cat. exp., Paris, Centre Pompidou, september 22, 2010 - january 10, 2011, p. 47..
After Amsterdam...
After Amsterdam, exploration of a new gesture of deconstruction in the claim of the politically incorrect, in the provocation.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Combustion. DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 40,9 x 24,8 x 24,8 MEDIUM: Burnt prayer stool embedded in plastic, in glass case.
The first burned violin drowned in the polyester that allows by this strategy of presentation to maintain things between them and find the sculpture / painting in wall configuration.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Combustion. DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 30,1 x 21,3 x 2,2 MEDIUM: Burnt violin on golden background embedded into polyester.

Most of the authors quoted here were able to base their reflections on their relational experience with Arman and the cross-checking of published testimonies, including those left by the artist himself. Over the course of the interviews and his writings, he has left biographical tracks that allow him to understand his character and his approach through the question of mental configuration and physical involvement. This question can now benefit from privileged insights thanks to the study of the correspondence exchanged by Arman and his first wife Éliane Radigue, his « female energy »  ¹³ Arman, Letter to Éliane Radigue, stamped October 21, 1957. All the letters quoted entirely or in part in this study are stored at the archives of the Fondation A.R.M.A.N. Please note tant if we made some spelling corrections, we respect the original ponctuation of these documents that can be seen on line., from the beginning of the 1950s to the end of the 1960s, i.e about a thousand letters kept by the A.R.M.A.N. Foundation. Let's say it for a start : this study is not without methodological danger for the art historian, because of the risk of over interpretation or interpretative twist guided by the presupposition. A risk all the greater as the handwritten expression of the thought of Arman often remains enigmatic on the background if not on the form. This is why it seemed useful to us to quote extensively the speech of the artist, this to allow the reader to bring out other analyzes and thus other hypotheses and conclusions.

My female energy
The proof by tittle, with Arman’s first Colère (Rage)…
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 78,7 x 61,8 x 9,7 MEDIUM: Smashed bass fiddle on a wood panel, the first rage created.


 Latent violence, spontaneous violence

In a letter of 1952, Arman informed Éliane Radigue: « I have broken a blade of the little knife that you gave me and it makes me sad- I had already slightly deteriorated the scissors. Nothing resists in my hands, it's a pity. »  ¹⁴ Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1952.. Beyond that accident as a result of an anecdotal clumsiness, he says 40 years later « [to like] the violent techniques : breaking objects, crushing them, shattering them » ¹⁵ Arman, Mémoires accumulés. Entretiens avec Otto Hahn, Paris, Belfond, coll. « entretiens », 1992, p. 41..
It is tempting to relate the artist's appetite for « violent techniques » to his own violence, which he refers to in the same context:« I have always been a fighter. I practiced boxing. But being kicked and knocked every day is hard. I chose something more exotic, judo. […] Then I practiced kung fu, karate, Chinese boxing ... The martial arts are my Achilles complex. In order for her son to escape his fate, Achilles' mother dipped him, holding him by the heel, in the blood of the dragon. She then sent him to King Minos's court who had only daughters. Likewise, I was raised in a girls' school. But when Ulysses wanted to find Achilles hidden in the middle of a group of teenage girls, he threw a shield, a sword and a helmet. The girl who picked them up was Achilles. Having grown up in the middle of youngsters, I myself have an attraction for violence and weapons »  ¹⁶ Ibid., p. 22..
I have broken a blade of little knife...

Arman - « an excellent shooter of instinct, [who] hits the target every time from thirty paces »  ¹⁷P. Restany, « Arman », op. cit., p. 1. punctually alluded to his rebellious youth, explaining to have been a « wild guy » ¹⁸ Arman, in Tita Reut, « Souvenirs d’École », Arman. La traversée des objets, cat. exp., Vence, Château de Villeneuve, Paris, Hazan, 2000, p. 200. until the age of 14. However, we cannot talk of a total abandon to a behavior at the limits of delinquency beyond 1942.


It is known that the artist, bodyguard of a militant friend in the Rassemblement du Peuple Français (RPF), the political party founded by Charles de Gaulle, was mingled in Nice during the year 1950 with the clashes that occurred between communists and gaullists. Arman, on this point, tells us: « […] I was engaged by friendship. I did not put political passion even during the fights between communists and gaullists. Some confrontations ended with gun shots »  ¹⁹Arman, Mémoires…, op. cit., p. 25.. A case of laying explosives in front of the premises of the Communist Party’s section of Nice definitely turns him away from street violence, except for a defensive response mentioned in a letter of 1960).  street violence, except for a defensive response mentioned in a letter of 1960).

A little savage...
He was watching boxing because he loved boxing, but if there had been a referendum for or against boxing, he would have voted for his abolition. The same thing for weapons.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 11,6 x 15,6 x 1,2 MEDIUM: Sliced revolver in polyester.

Arman’s violent dimension, probably ironically denied in a letter of 1962 claiming his « very kind and very sweet personality » ²⁰ Arman, Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1962., does also especially impact his creative practice. In 1992, thus, the artist associates the “Allures“ and the “Allures Colères“ to « [his] component of violence [...] in the line of Van Gogh »  ²¹ Arman, Mémoires…, op. cit., p. 30., unfortunately without providing us more details. In 1965, he annBecause at one point, he tells us, « I warm myself up working. By breaking a piano with mass shots, I end up in a rather concentrated physical fury, it's obvious»  ²² Arman, in A. Jouffroy, « Arman », op. cit., p. 48..


A fury that can be linked to a phenomenon reported by Pierre Restany about the “Cachets“ (stamps) that appeared in 1954, implicating this small-sized objects-ustensils: « From the contact with the stamps, Arman told me at the time, there is a strange transformation in me. I choose one, I take it, I manipulate it, I abandon it, I take another one. I'm excited, I'm bewitched, I enter in a sort of trance little by little. »  ²³ P. Restany, « Arman », op. cit., p. 4.. Arman confirms this modality of runaway in the execution of his monochrome accumulations, tubes of paint created in the late 1980s: « […] as a good wild guy, I was caught up in a “post-pollockian“ frenzy during which [...] I accumulated, I trampled on [...] large quantities of tubes and their colors, with bursting and squirts of extreme violence ». And again, about this time « Shooting Colors » that will follow : "Around me, on me, in the studio, the bombardment of colors beyond control drew persistent, violent, rectilinear traces, assaulting and covering everything found on their course  »  ²⁴ Arman, « (I’m an anthill) », manuscript of October 1989, Arman New York Studio Archives. Reprod. dans Pierre et Marianne Nahon (dir.), Shooting Colors : peinture et musique, cat. exp., Paris, Galerie Beaubourg, November 30 - December 30, 1989, Paris, La Différence, 1989, p. 25-26..

I come little by little into a kind of transe...
While declaring that he felt much more appeased than at the beginning of his career, he admits that his « purely physical revolt [...] can lead to excesses »  ²⁵ Arman, in A. Jouffroy, « Arman », op. cit., p. 48.. On April 5th 1975 from 7 pm, a spectacular event will bring such a confirmation, in the continuity of the public destruction of Chopin's Waterloo's piano performed on August 14th 1962 as part of the Musical Rage exhibition (Galerie Saqqârah, Gstaad). This is the destruction with a mallet, a double axe, a pick and a cutter of the inside of a middle-class bourgeois US, apartment reconstructed within the John Gibson Gallery in New York City. « In twenty-two minutes […], Arman reports, I reduced the three rooms to pieces. A senseless rage seized me, I hit the exploding bottles, I emptied the drawers,I flattened the tubes of cream. At the end, I was exhausted » »  ²⁶ Arman, Mémoires…, op. cit., p. 187..
Witness of this event called « Conscious Vandalism », Sarenco delivers a more detailed description :« The third act, both cruel and sublime, tragic and reparative, is that of poetic catharsis by pure and simple physical violence. Arman appears as a ghost on the backdrop, his face made pale and tense by the gravity and the solemnity of the moment ; in his hands, he holds the axe and the mallet [...]. Those are the precious graphical instruments of this great vandalism music score that begins with a goldfish bowl violently projected against the screen of the TV cutter where moving and chatty images are scrolling. It's the spark who sets fire to the powder, the straw that breaks the camel's back. Arman is the poet vandal now possessed, Dionysian, master of ceremony of the most abominable phallophoria. He attacks the objects with the accumulated hatred of whole generations : he breaks, cuts, shatters, tears, throws, hits, throws, crushes. It is a continuous and constant crescendo, punctuated by small cries,groans of pleasure, which is even a gesture of Indian dance around the torture post. Arman's orgasm, mine and the public’s come in unison when our vandal poet jumps on the bed and suddenly, axe well axled, reduces it to more humble proportions the Crucifixion of Salvador Dali. [...] Arman is tired, exhausted : all the poets have asked him to avenge them [...], and he volunteered, the knight without fear and without reproach who fights the seven-headed dragon »  ²⁷ Sarenco, « Le poète comme vandale conscient », Arman. Conscious Vandalism/Vandalismo cosciente, Vérone, Edizioni Factotum-Art, 1982. Translate from english by Jean-François Allain, J.-M. Bouhours (dir.), Arman, op. cit., p. 273..
An insane rage has seized of me...
The first public action and the economical side: without video, without photographs, it is the mummification of the scenic performance.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 59,1 x 56,7 x 9,8 MEDIUM: Smashed Louis XIII cabinet on wooden panel, realized in public at the occasion of the first new realist festival, abbaye of Roseland Nice (France).
The coating prefigures the bronze that will come as a solution to the real fragility of the work.
EDITION SIZE: 1 Unique. TECHNIQUE: Combustion. DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 44,9 x 33,5 x 33,5 MEDIUM: Burnt armchair embedded in plastic.
This action described as « fairly brutal »  ²⁸ Arman, in Daniel Abadie, « L’archéologie du futur », Daniel Abadie (dir.), Arman, cat. exp., Paris, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume/Rmn, 1998, p. 60. by Arman is repeated in 2001 during the inauguration of the retrospective « Arman. Passage à l’acte » But this time, the reconstruction of a living room from the 1970s is destroyed by means of a bulldozer, then a mallet, and according to the testimony of the director of Mamac, with « an obvious jubilation »  ²⁹ Gilbert Perlein, « (En forme d’hommage)», May 2006, preface of the exhibition Arman : Subida al cielo, 2006.


The jubilant feeling is probably no stranger to the potentially playful dimension of destruction, a dimension that is apparent in a letter from May or June 1963 written by Arman from Düsseldorf shortly after the blasting of the MG of Isle Dwinger at the origin of the work Wise Orchid («« the apotheosis of the "colères"« »  ³⁰ P. Restany, « Arman », op. cit., p. 12. selon Pierre Restany) : « […] I want a good […] large panel prepared. Install a grand piano. Stuffed with dynamite and then, from away, detonate the explosion two minutes after a team dressed in minor with helmets comes to fix the vestiges on panel one can also consider an old car - a TV station a safe. etc…etc… - and that promises me a good time in Nice for future experiments we will be laughing […] Attention for departure. Next invitation card: a firecracker that can be turned on. I am enraged. But I love you I love you I love you I love you with the force of the expansion gas released by the explosion »  ³¹ Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, May-June 1963. As an anecdote, let’s mention a domestic accident recalled by the artist’s first wife : « Hear the sad story of a woman […] that an explosion almost transformed into lard, glorious crowning celebrated in a pig’s grease […]’.[…] In short : rillettes (oh first horror) steamed autoclave (oh second horror) explosion by a chef’s clumsiness (Pan) 10 kgs de boiling rillettes spread on the kitchen, or what it serves men and people without other consequence however of a temporary craziness of the two parts of the couple and the reajustement of things by the action of the two parties. I.e. me » (É. Radigue, Letter à Arman, v. 1954)..

I am enraged...

This deal of the game is held as essential by the artist in a letter from 1966 written from New York : « I do not feel harmonious [...]. […] no substitute can get me out of this impasse. For now, only the side playfulness of existence could satisfy me provided that I have the necessary appetite.[...] the playful side of creation. The playful side of writting. […] for everything this need appetite […] »  ³²Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1966..


But how to understand this « need for appetite » for the « playful side of creation » ? The artist may give us a key in a 1961 letter, if, however, we admit a certain relationship of a binding synonymy between humor and play : « The veil is torn up by brief shakes of lucidity. You catch the beast doing damage. […] I think I understand what the others saw, the elders, the old ones, the cursed ones, Sade, Nerval, Lautréamont, Rimbaud and closer to us Artaud and Bosch, Cousin, Goya, Ensor, Van Gogh.These they saw or had a glimpse at but never annihilated the « Gorgon » [...]. It takes, and now I know it, a fundamental physical humor a humor in essence like Gurdjieff's so as not to sink, because sometimes human figures as they are and [...] black these poor masks at the decline of life and even before. All twisted for not being able to adjust to the conscience. All scratched for not having been able to overcome the fear, the hatred and the tiger that inhabit them. I hate all these social forms of order, morality, ethics, and duty binding enough to transform this beautiful and free animal by the incessant torture of a behavior really inapplicable to each conscience, and which is inculcated to someone from the first interviews with peers. The scars of a struggle for life, a natural worry, an individual quest are certainly less ugly than these results of a continual and degrading shift –   and between us what result ? »  ³³Arman, Lettre to É. Radigue, 1961..

And between us... what result ?...

It is therefore understandable that “Armanian“ playfulness, in its compensatory dimension, is not (or not only) distraction. Significantly, the same goes for the determination of the titles of certain works. The artist explains on this point : « I often make the choice of titles as a game with my friends. I try to find witty titles, whether I keep them or not. Often the position of the objects or their interaction can be interpreted in a humorous way. Sometimes I avoid humor, sometimes I use it, when I value that this goes in the direction of the goal I pursue, of the play on which I works » ³⁴ Arman, quoted in Marisa del Re, « An accumulation of conversations with Arman », Arman’s Orchestra, cat. exp., Marisa del Re Gallery, New York, New York, May 11 - June 11, 1983, p. 8..


The statement validates this earlier analysis by Restany : « Arman’s spirit is practical : the titles he gives are stitched [...] descriptions of yarn white, a direct and brutal way to tell you how to see them. One must not confuse a pun with a user manual »  ³⁵ P. Restany, « Arman », op. cit., p. 15.. knowing both can co-exist, like « Le mauvais goût mène au crime » ("bad taste leads to crime", exploded accordion, 1962), « La hache de Barney » (exploded saxophone, 1962), « Colère musicale » (exploded cello, 1962), « Les ruines de Persépolis » (cut coffee mill, 1962), « Nous résisterons jusqu’au bout » (cut statuette, 1963), « La mort de Mademoiselle de Lamballe » (cut statuette, 1963), « Attila » (calcined cello, 1964), « Le piano de Néron » (calcined piano, 1965) or even « Pyromane mélomane » (calcined cello, 1965).

I try to find witty titles...
The melee with the attacked object: a physical challenge.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Combustion. DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 78,7 x 118,1 MEDIUM: Burnt piano on white panel.
Presentation in a box that protects the object weakened by the destructuration, which affirms the surface effect in a pictorial problem, and which aestheticizes the brutality of the plastic fact. The box as a multifunctional showcase.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 31,5 x 19,7 x 23,6 MEDIUM: Smashed tv set in a plexiglas box.
Organological exploration with tribute to composer and jazz saxophonist Barney Wilen
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 53,9 x 35,4 x 5,9 MEDIUM: Smashed saxophon with paint traces on black wood panel.
Combustion in concrete, the original gesture in a new presentation.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Combustion. DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 55,1 x 39,4 x 9,4 MEDIUM: Burned cello in concrete, wooden frame.

If it justifies itself, Arman's spontaneous and largely self-generated violence can also, in the specific case of public destruction, feed on the outside look, adding an to the « game » of destructive excitement.


It's in any case what the artist confides, declaring on this precise point of the public performance: « I'm pretty exhibitionist. I'm excited, I'm happy »  ³⁶Arman, in D. Abadie, « L’archéologie… », op. cit., p. 61..


To our knowledge, Arman has unfortunately not developed his reflection on the self-display on stage, which is undoubtedly at the heart of the practice of action or performance and which, perhaps, derives more generally from the « need to be loved » mentioned in a letter sent on May 19th 1958: « […] I feel like doing it for a public, I want to be loved, lowly, pettily and I want to feel like an Emperor of a ephemeral kingdom reign (sic) »  ³⁷Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, stamped on 18 mai 1958.

I want to be loved...
The advantage of bronze in the presentation of the object, the release of the glue, the panel, the box ... Of support.
EDITION SIZE: 8 copies from 1/8 to 8/8. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 66,9 x 96,5 x 65 MEDIUM: Cast in bronze Smashed piano. PUBLISHER: Arman, New York (USA). MAKER: Fonderie d'Art R. Bocquel S.A., Bréauté (France).

2. Territoriality in the mirror of competitiveness

« I'm pretty exhibitionist. I get excited, I'm happy  »  ¹ Arman, in Daniel Abadie, « L’archéologie du futur », Daniel Abadie (dir.), Arman, cat. exp., Paris, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume/Rmn, 1998, p. 61., says Arman in a statement about his relationship regarding performance. His « destructive exhibitionism » in a public context may also have to do with the very nature of the performance.
A spectacular showcase, it was probably apprehended by the artist as an effective way to specify language boundaries. Or to say it differently, as a way to obtain that his artistic identity shaped by a set of « Territories » (a term he uses in a 1959 letter about des cachets  ² Arman wrote: «  I have started a huge Cachet it starts well and it is a little less Cachet that the others and a little more 'concrete pictorial proposals'. I really have a huge territory here - Christopher Columbus discovering America is just peanuts. (Arman, Letter to É. Radigue,1959). Note that the artist still uses the term "territory" in a 1966 letter beginning in a humorous tone : « In general animals also go by pair and the most solid cement for a pair is what is called imperative territory. Having a lot of territory, I would have a lot females to occupy these territories and when it becomes impossible I abandon the territories. «  (Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1966) be officially « patented », that is to say, protected by the very fact of his official statement against potential competitive threats. A threat identified in a letter of May 1958 : « JI am still a barbarian. And from the smiling theft to the serious trade barter of powers not yet revealed, I prefer to print my own currency in a burst of pride that sits quietly in the face of everything and everybody regretting only one thing: not being able to display myself as an insult to any individuality.
I really have here a huge territory...

I cannot stand other paintings because they always take away a little bit of my kingdom[…]. […] […] I am still healthy enough to recognize myself as an animal in my hunting field and unable to tolerate around in the space where I can live other foreign smells virtually threatening my instinct for reproduction and preservation and like any male, I will try with the weapons forged by my world to kill everything male resembling me »  ³ Arman, Lettre to É. Radigue, stamped on 19 mai 1958..


Two years later, Arman writes about the “Allures“: « Taking possession and exorcism are the goals of an art that has its own hunting ground and its weapons adapted to each era [...], now at the time T, the scouts, with careful watching bring back the materials we would feed on, the battle is in the unconsciousness, in the objects, in inanimate worlds, mechanics, and those we’ll animate with a gesture [sic], a precise and sumptuous launch » Arman, (Texte sur les Allures), vers 1960, archives Galerie Françoise Paviot, Paris. Reprod. dans Jean-Michel Bouhours (dir.), Arman, cat. exp., Paris, Centre Pompidou, 22 septembre 2010-10 janvier 2011, p. 250..

I am pretty exhibitionist...
After "NBC RAGE" and "SUBIDA AL CIELO", the third double bass for the treatment of the double bass (the triptych demonstrates the destructuration / reconstruction).
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Combustion. DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 78,7 x 61,8 x 8,3 MEDIUM: Burnt bass in a plexiglas box.

The objective of the act of taking possession and then of the territorial preservation is undoubtedly one of the main drives of the aggregation of the New Realists from 1960, around the figure of Pierre Restany and his concept of « Objective appropriation of the sociological reality ».


« The discipline of appropriating,says Arman, nhas served us to assert our position. It was our starting point. It was decreed that Yves Klein was blue, that Arman was accumulation, that Tinguely was the machine ». The artist, after reminding that « [everyone] had his gesture, his objects that no one else could touch », says : « We were taking possession of areas like the empire's barons of Napoleon shared Europe amongst themselves : « I give you Silesia, I take Poland, I make you king of Hungary ». It looked like some sort of exclusion for those who came after us. Nobody had the right to touch the accumulations, the glue » Arman, Mémoires accumulés. Entretiens avec Otto Hahn, Paris, Belfond, coll. « entretiens », 1992, p. 37, 36..

Accumulated memories

But the existence of theoretical, plastic, stylistic or aesthetic correspondences within the group of the New Realists will not be without posing the question of preserving personal territories, as evidenced by the tensions between Arman and Daniel Spoerri in the context of the first festival of the movement (Nice, Galerie Muratore, July 13-September 13, 1961).


During of the opening cocktail given at the Abbaye de Roseland (in Nice), the former performs in the presence of the latter a “Colère de chaise et de table“, whose fragments are glued on wooden panels presented vertically. A process that is not without recalling the principle of the “Tableau-piège“ developed by Spoerri from 1960. Evoking the reaction of its inventor, Arman, aware of the existing relationship between the act of « sticking an accident [he creates] and [sticking] the accidents by chance » »  Ibid., p. 68., tell us : « Spoerri became very aggressive : « But you copy me, you trap a “Colère” just as I trap a table ». I tried to tell him that I already had done that in 1958 Let’s recall that the artist’s first opus-object (œuvre-objet) is created around June 1959.. He did not want to hear anything. He was drunk and made big gestures. I thought he was going to hit me. When one is threatened, it is better to flee. Being cornered at a balustrade, I felt stuck. I grabbed Spoerri and threw him to the ground, ruining his elbow. It shows how much everyone was jealous of his territory  » Arman 1992, p. 36-37. On the problem of the plastic territories, see also p. 208-210..

Jealous of his territory...
The panel on which the combustion is made serves as a support. The fragments are burned, then moved, the negative imprint (the savings) as well as the burnt become color.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Combustion. DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 66,9 x 39,4 x 5,1 MEDIUM: Sliced and burnt cello on wood panel.
Controlled combustion, remains after the disaster.
EDITION SIZE: 8 copies from 1/8 to 8/8., 2 artist proofs from EA1/2 to EA2/2, 2 HC from HC1/2 to HC2/2 TECHNIQUE: Combustion. DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 50,4 x 20,5 x 10,2 MEDIUM: Burnt cello cast in patinated bronze. PUBLISHER: Arman, New York (USA) MAKER: Fonderie d'Art R. Bocquel S.A., Bréauté (France)
The stele that manages to consolidate / reconcile Arman painter / sculptor.
EDITION SIZE: 1 Unique. TECHNIQUE: Combustion. DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 29,5 x 10 x 3 MEDIUM: Burnt violin embedded into polyester.
Arman, on the other hand, rejects more or less vigorously what he holds as an "armandisation" - to use his expression - of the production of some New Realists. This is the case of Spoerri's "collections of objects", or Christo’s accumulative heaps and more particularly of the “Rideau de Fer“ (the closing of the rue Visconti by a wall of 240 barrels of oil, for three hours in the night of June 27th, 1962) and later the project of Abu Dhabi’s Mastaba (1240 barrels of oil, designed in 1968 and started in 1977) See Arman, Mémoires…, op. cit., p. 210, 208-209..
The question of the overlap of the plastic territories still arises several times with the french artist César, and for example with the « crushed objects » and « mini-Compressions » of toys and everyday objects on wooden panels. A phenomenon well identified by a Restany who, as a relativist diplomat, writes : « The mini-compressions [...], if they have a certain plastic interest, pose a problem that must be named, in the appropriative perspective of New Realism, a conflict of skills, a language limit with Arman. The Arman of the “Colères“, broken objects, twisted, burst, burnt, is sometimes close to César’s mini-compressions. The author of the “Petit déjeuner sur l’herbe“ of 1957 has the moral right to « crush » any individual object. Nevertheless, Arman's quantitative language is focused on the notion of during dialectical break, in a way, of the notion of accumulation. Arman is the man of a two-sided idea, positive and negative, the energy center of a magnetic field both precise and limited. His quantitative language is based on the pure and simple appropriation of the object and not the control of this or that material, that is to say on the conquest of this or that technique of appropriation. Arman is an introvert who defends his territory. In César’s art, when “homo ludens“ wins on “homo faber“, imagination knows no borders. This conflict of skills leads to a conflict of personalities, which, between artists, is not serious »  ¹⁰ Pierre Restany, César, Monte-Carlo, André Sauret, 1975, p. 218. .
A conflict of personalities... between artists... is not serious...
Arman and time, the fixing of time.
1970 - circa
EDITION SIZE: 1 Modèle. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 17,1 x 17,1 x 3,7 MEDIUM: Réveil dans du béton, encadrement en bois noir/Alarm clock in concrete, black wooden frame.
The object is no longer isolated, locked up, you can touch it and modify its presentation (the springs are free).
EDITION SIZE: 8 copies from 1/8 to 8/8., 2 artist proofs from EA1/2 to EA2/2, 2 HC from HC1/2 to HC2/2 TECHNIQUE: Combustion - The Day After. DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 34,6 x 22,8 x 25,6 MEDIUM: Burnt armchair, springs, black patina, bronze. PUBLISHER: Arman, New York (USA) MAKER: Fonderie d'Art R. Bocquel S.A., Bréauté (France)
Arman and the attention to detail, it seems that the drawer is mobile.
EDITION SIZE: 8 copies from 1/8 to 8/8., 2 artist proofs from EA1/2 to EA2/2, 2 HC from HC1/2 to HC2/2 TECHNIQUE: Combustion. DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 35 x 48 x 26,8 MEDIUM: Burnt chest of drawers, patinated bronze. PUBLISHER: Arman, New York (USA) MAKER: Fonderie d'Art R. Bocquel S.A., Bréauté (France)
The bourgeois interior, the after-disaster and the preoccupation of time.
EDITION SIZE: 8 copies from 1/8 to 8/8., 4 artist proofs from EA1/4 to EA4/4 TECHNIQUE: Combustion - The Day After. DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 85,4 x 16,9 x 11,8 MEDIUM: Black patina bronze burnt clock. PUBLISHER: Arman, New York (USA) MAKER: Fonderie d'Art R. Bocquel S.A., Bréauté (France)
Here comes into play the «  domineering and independent character  »  ¹¹ Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1965. and the « and the « competitive spirit beyond reasonable »  ¹² Arman, Mémoires…, op. cit., p. 72. that Arman evokes for his case respectively in a 1966 letter and in his 1992 Mémoires accumulés. An essential characteristic of the Armanian mentality is the visceral need to go beyond all forms of limitations and restrictions felt in a unique or continuous competitive relation. Let us quote a confirmatory passage of a letter of 1962: « […] as I was weird and depressed I took the Jaguar(car). With the full tank of gasoline and I hung on the field on the highway until 4 am [...]. I was driving at 80 (km/h) quietly watching the arrival of the cars and as soon as a car seemed fast I stuck to its back until I caught it up and pass it at 180 a real kid of 18 years, I return right to the integral and neo-juvenile decrepitude (between us there was not a single car that resisted. All of the Alfa(Romeo), a Lancia ?, MG a Triumph a Porsche [...]) »  ¹³Arman, Letter to É. Radigue 1962..
Arman, who assures in 1965 that he does not «  forgive himself for any fault nor weakness »  ¹⁴ Arman, Letter to É. Radigue 1965., also recounted his tenacious investment in the practice of the game of Go (strategy games based on the preservation of a domination relationship) from 1970, in order to prove to a skeptical entourage that his brain could still, after 40, adapt to a new brain work requirement  ¹⁵ Let’s cite Arman : « When I started the game of go, some friends made fun of me ; « you’re starting (to learn) too late, your brain works already slower, you’ll never made it ». Out of rage, I started to work […] : I was reading, I even learned Japanese in order to follow the best courses  » ( Arman, Mémoires…, op.cit. , p 72). Significantly, he abandonned this practice sometimes later, as he noted he reached his limit at the rank of 1st Dan amateur (a “fair” level according to him ) despite the particular supervision of the master Isamu Haruyama, and perhaps most of all the risk of jeopardizing his work  ¹⁶ Arman tells : « What was, at the time, level (OK) for a good Japanese amateur was a little more difficult for a “gaijin“ ; to improve I should have invested more in efforts than in time […] These moments, these thoughts, I should have taken them on my creative time, at the expenses of my work » (Arman (Sur le japon), manuscrit non daté, Archives Arman, New York. Reprod. dans J.-M. Boudoirs (dir.), Arman, op. cit., p. 261). See also this text for Arman's relation regarding Japanese weapons..
As I was weird and blue I took the jag...

At the end of 1971, he discovered the discipline of Wushu inspired by the Chinese martial arts, which he also practices intensively to the point of obtaining quickly his black belt and open in Paris his own dojo (The art of kung-fu, rue de Charenton). This total investment probably reflects in great part "his vital need to confront himself again, as if needing to reassess his physical potential and his degree of fighting spirit »  ¹⁷Emmanuelle Ollier, « Arman et l’esprit du Bushido. La quête du geste parfait », J.-M. Bouhours (dir.), Arman, op. cit., p. 49..


Lucid on this issue of physical surpassing, the artist reports : « In all my fun activities, I invest a ferocity that has nothing to do with relaxation. I tended to play Ping-Pong the same way. I was doing twenty games because I wanted to win. [...]. I would have liked to be Ping-Pong champion. The underwater fishing is the same. I walked my harpoon in all oceans in search of the fabulous feat »  ¹⁸Arman, Mémoires…, op. cit., p. 72. Restany talks of this latter activity in a text written between November 1967 and September 1968 : « […] Arman is everywhere himself, with the same desires, the same impulses, the same need to use his vital energy which burns him and pushes him, relentessly, to make his life complicated or to risk it uselessly in submarine activities that look like sporting achievements […]. » (Pierre Restany, « Arman », Henry Martin, Arman, Paris, Pierre Horay, 1973, p.15. Texte de 1967-1968) . « The feat fabulous », is also linked to the obsessional practice of the collection of objects, who has very concretely oriented his plastic choices and his career choices. Here, the satisfaction from possessing is often surpassed by that of an acquisition at the limit of the financial break, requiring him to negotiate, exchange, sell, or borrow  ¹⁹Voir Renaud Bouchet, Les féminins d’Arman, des Cachets aux Interactifs, 1957-2005, Genève, Fondation A.R.M.A.N., 2016 (with a preface by Cécile Debray), p. 86-89..


I wanted to win...
Tracking the memory of the titles...
EDITION SIZE: 1 Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: aaaaa 60 x 36 x 6,7 MEDIUM: Smashed harp on wood panel.
All or part of the explanation of this « dominating character » and of this « Unreasonable competitive mind » is perhaps to be found in this passage of a Letter from Arman dated 1965: «  Life there no longer containing legitimate struggles for the survival lets ooze from all sides a compensatory aggressiveness that gnaws the behavior has any attitude. And that's where one of the keys lives dangerously said the other but he was right [...] we will eat our dirty figure in others and no longer have pain in the liver. A world where there is no longer of grass to conquer returns its ruminants and rodents to a knifed fight drawn to prove to oneself that one could have done it under the conditions first […] »  ²⁰Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1958. Éliane Radigue will answer this way : « I understand better your need for « a knife-fired fight » « weapons and masks » that are better part of your Martian temperament (of Mars the god) of the warrior who is only the evil in you, that need that is explained for you, and yet others necessary at certain times of stripping to go out by big chopsticks under which the silhouette of the man will be drawn perhaps, that one eats one's own face in the other ones oneself, but why not rather try to change it, and then these are only quarrels of more or less good neighborhood, quarrel of court or low court here and everywhere, Augias' stables of politics where one fights on the dung, spicy glass wool of your own battle ground, the ground differs but it is still only 'to eat our dirty face in others' to have indigestion. It cannot be that everything has been drunk, there must still be something still there is much to be said beyond the stickiness. » (É. Radigue, Letter à Arman, 1958).. This grass is particularly New York in the 1960s: «  Sound trumpets the time is serious form the battalions we go in So here are the decisions we will give up with the house in Nice. Come to N.Y. [...] it will be hard, but I'm almost happy to have a fight to be fought  »  ²¹Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1964..
A few years ago, the question was also raised of a Parisian installation, a project mentioned in a letter by Éliane Radigue as geography of a new fight for Arman: «  Finally I have the impression that will soon fail in Paris. It's necessary for you to fight a fight measure […] »  ²²E. Radigue, Letter to Arman, v. 1957.. And precisely, the artist will find in the US challenge the combat to the extent of its need for conquest, exacerbated by New York's dynamism. As he explains : « I suddenly believed myself after the war of 14, in Paris, at the beginning of Dadaism or surrealism. It's a climate I never had known, because in Paris, in 1960-1961, apart from the weird youngsters that we were, he did not was not much exciting. [...] The effervescence had subsided. I am found in front of an artistic milieu in full boiling. So I told Eliane [Radigue]: « I found where I want to live. This is where I left for three weeks. I stayed two months [...] A year later, in 1963, I settled officially in the United States »  ²³Ibid., p. 50. In fact, Restany, talking about Arman’s first trip to New-York from November 1961, assures : « This stay in America boosted him. » (P. Restany, « Arman », op. cit., p. 11)..
Sound trumpets... the time is serious... We go in so...
Archaeological presentation strategies of the gesture, the concrete.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 70,9 x 47,2 x 10,2 MEDIUM: Smashed bass in concrete.
Great is the temptation to extend the recognition of a need for domination, challenge and conquest from Arman in his creative practice, especially on the basis of the many letters whose rhetoric bears witness to a disposition of combative mind or even warlike in the relation to the work or the career. These include some excerpts: « I would need like a Japanese warrior a wife who would give me force [...] »  ²⁴ Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1960. (1960) ; « The fight ends and I come home victorious as always I'm used to my armor of innocence and duplicity » (1962) ; « […] I'm overwhelmed I'm going to overwork and I'm delighted because I like it I take on the appearance of a Roman general[…] »  ²⁵Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1965. (1965) ; « […] tyou could have written to me at least as a war godmother » ²⁶Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1965. (1965) ; « I'm a little depressed but it will be better I am tired I have little that you do not recognize me more I have bleached and aged in battle […]  »  ²⁷Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1965. (1966) ; « […] I fight night and morning I get up early late night [...] Standing, the evening comes, I defend my sword held with both hands (...). I am in the center of a clearing of corpse. I would go south again (...) to free the sleeping princess.  »  ²⁸Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1966.. Arman warrior, but not militarist. «  It is not no fair war, but in every war of righteous men(...)  »  ²⁹Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1960.,he writes in 1960, when he delivers this commentary on Bernhard Wicki's Die Brücke : « […] not bad. Even better than that it's very anti-war […]  »  ³⁰Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, stamped on 21 april 1960..
In general, it seems that the very fight could have been for Arman a self-sufficient objective, at least during the year 1957. In a letter to his wife dated May, he writes: « […] failure or success have no importance. what matters is the directed activity. and you will see him lose or win these are just results that do not have to go into building the formula. on my behalf, if I was only looking to win it is almost safe that I would not accept this strange lottery called art . with some average opportunities I could claim to be successful elsewhere, but we let's get everything done. In every man of a little value all absolutely all activities are winning but in this higher sense of enrichment by the act in time and in matter. Because this man only remains superior according to his design of the game and that's why among those false winners that have arrived in the chair we find so many deteriorated, shabby and suffering they did not know how to play as soon as the gain was presented in another way, c d. money, power, glory, etc etc. while their only wealth was to undertake »  ³¹Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, mai 1957.. A statement that aims primarily to strengthen the wavering morale of a wife discouraged by the low prospect of a musical career, but who may also be self-help : Arman, then, is confronted with doubt, difficult to bear, as to the possibility of an artistic career.
The letters he sends to his wife highlight the search for a constant economic valuation of plastic art activity in Europe as in the United States, particularly under pressure from family needs  ³²Quote a letter sent by Éliane Radigue in the  beginning of 1960 : « My Armand, where are they the dollars ? You can earn some my love, here we're waiting for you firmly to have you spent them the unpaid bills pour on like mean summer storm days. » (É. Radigue, Letter to Arman, v. 1961). «  I have lots of worries it's going badly I'm not selling anything and the costs run I do not go out any more. [...] here stories of the work that is annoying and does not bring […]»  ³³Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, stamped on 26 june 1959., he writes. example in a letter of June 1959 posted in Nice. This situation, which will extend globally until the end of the next decade, will prove sufficiently worrying to take punctual consideration given to the action itself. During the year 1966, Arman writes thus: « I have been for a while with very short exceptions more led in my actions by the need to survive than by the very content of acts »  ³⁴Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1966..
I am depressed... I have a lot of worries...
With the Cut: cold Rage, without appropriating chance as the prime mover of creation. It is destructuration (Rage) completely calculated. Only the fragment that breaks under the teeth of the saw generates randomness.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 96,5 x 49,2 x 13,4 MEDIUM: Sliced bass fiddle on panel.

3. Contextual anxiety, temporal anxiety


In 1957, Arman tells Eliane Radigue in confidence that he feels « unstable and nervous », and that his « only means of happyness only by painting ¹Arman, Letter to Eliane Radigue, stamped November, 14 1957.. Forty years later, he suggests that the destruction of objects is also a compensatory practice, not of his instability or nervousness, rather of his « constructive impulses ».


Questioned by Daniel Abadie about his « need to conserve and destroy », he answers: « I think it is a complementary drive. When I go through a phase of destruction [...], I then need order, construction. At that moment, I create “Accumulations“, much more structured things »  ²Arman, in Daniel Abadie, « L’archéologie du futur », Daniel Abadie (dir.), Arman, cat. exp., Paris, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume/Rmn, 1998, p. 37..

Happyness only by painting...
The will to use a false object (he thought to have bought a real one) or the intervention of the gesture of Rage which restores the quality of valuable object = Arman alchemist: the transformation of lead into gold.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 29,2 x 6,1 x 4 MEDIUM: Sliced statuette embedded in polyester.
Continuing the gesture / material dialogue: the ceramic Cut.
EDITION SIZE: 5 copies from 1 to 5. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 57,5 x 16,5 x 16,5 MEDIUM: Terracota sliced sculpture. PUBLISHER: Galleria d'Arte Maggiore, Bologna (Italy) MAKER: La Bottega d'Arte Ceramica Gatti di Faenza, Faenza (Italy)
Mastering the recomposition that lets the viewer tell his own story.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 29,1 x 8,9 x 3,9 MEDIUM: Sliced violin in polyester stele.
Instrument Cut (exploration of each new presentation technique confronted with all object forms.)
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 36,6 x 24,8 MEDIUM: Sliced guitar in concrete, wooden frame.

According to Arman, these complementary urges have a stabilizing dimension. In 1964, that is to say a year before confessing being « very apprehensive» and feeling « always threatened by anything» ³Arman, in Alain Jouffroy, « Arman », interview with the artist, L’Œil, Paris, n° 126, june 1965, p. 48., he writes : « […] in the desire of accumulating there is a need for security, and in the destruction, in the cut, there is the will to stop time. [...] humanity has arrived at one of its ultimate phases, where the multiplication in all its manifestations - production, demography - has remained the maximum expression of men [...]. I hope I’m translating the anxiety arising from the decrease of spaces and surfaces and the invasion of our industrial secretions. I would like to stop the speed, the explosion, the rupture, those patches of time, valuable accidents […] » Arman, untitled brochure published for the Arman exhibition, Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, 1964, n. p..


About ten years later, Arman confirms this analysis while suggesting that this human and material suffocation is no longer a source of anxiety for him: « As a witness of my society, I have always been very interested in the pseudo-biological cycle of production, of consumption and of destruction. And for a long time, I was distressed by the fact that one of the most visible material results is the invasion of our world by waste and other singular rejects » Arman, Untitled, typewritten text of 1973, quoted in dans Henry Martin, Arman, Paris, Pierre Horay, 1973, p. 56. Author's translation.. A phenomenon that Arman is records and exploits since the end of the year 1959 with his “Poubelles“ made of independent components frozen in polyester.

Translate the concerns...

In the corpus of his 1963 creations, there is a “Coupe“ called “Arrêt du Temps“. The title seems programmatic, like the one of “Frozen Civilization” (Civilisation Figée), applied to two inclusions of organic waste from 1971. To freez the time in order to suspend the submersion, but also to stop the time itself, in its double dimension identified by Pierre Restany: « […] whatever the object, the goal will always be the same, to reach this or that aspect of reality in its expressive fullness, seizing it in the moment and projecting it out of its own duration. This is the secret of the long-lasting modernity of the objects presented to us by Arman.


Significantly, all his works seem to us without a date. From their creation, they appear to us frozen in the eternal present of their waiting: they are our eternal contemporaries insofar as they are the testimony of a moment of history which is ours, but which is destined to be covered up by others who will no longer be ours » Pierre Restany, « A star's destiny, finally » Gilbert Perlein (dir.), "Arman. Passage à l'acte", cat. exp. Nice, Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain, June 16 - October 14 2001, Paris Skira/Seuil, 2001, p 22..


The fixation of time to neutralize physical aging and death is another reason of concern for Arman. It is, for example, mentioned in a letter of 1962: « I’m back from gigantic battles where I led the banners taken away from the enemy.  The enemy (the nothingness, the death, the non-being) in their own country  » Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1962.. Four years later, Éliane Radigue reads: « I still feel as bad. I believe that there are different parameters to consider at first a certain fear of death the total refusal of the relativity of my existence; after the refusal of your death because it must also mean a part of mine, as a corollary:  : the refusal of my aging and the refusal of yours . Although these are facts » Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1966..

The enemy (the nothingness the death the non-being)...

To these facts, Arman opposes on the one hand the « anesthetic » practice of art as a more or less efficient loophole: « Time does not settle anything just an enraged activity momentarily sleeps [...]. I develop my activities in a dreamy twilight the hours pass the differences fade out and I do not know if it is morning or evening I would like to leave my prison because in full sun I grope around I do not know what I survive of. I do not eat much, I do not sleep much, and I am so anxious that every day is an earthquake  » Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1966..

On the other hand Arman opposes his desire to register a trace beyond his own existence, in other words to « become a reference, a small point in the history of art »  ¹⁰Arman, Mémoires accumulés. Entretiens avec Otto Hahn, Paris, Belfond, coll. « entretiens », 1992, p. 130.. He notes « We recognize our temporality and yet we have the audacity to challenge this slice of eternity which is ours »  ¹¹Arman, « « Fragment of the Sublime », J.R Camp, “Fragment of the Sublime“, New York, Camp Associates Ltd 1980. Retrod. in Jean-Michel Bonhours (dir.), “Arman“, cat. exp., Paris Centre Pompidou, September 22, 2010 - January 11, 2011, p 258.. A more or less ambitious challenge which, for the para-sculptor, could come up against the very nature of the avant-garde of his time. In a letter probably dated 1960, he observes «  Current art does not tend towards eternity or even towards duration. Each bubble only burst on the surface as it is waiting for the next one […] »  ¹²Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, v. 1960..
Become a small point in art history...

Also, the artist will invoke an acceleration of time as a factor or a facilitator of forgetfulness: « My idea of ​​sustainability is really very limited [...]. From now on the palates, the techniques, the world are changing at such a speed that we do not even know if the idea of ​​a work of art will still exist in a hundred years. [...] So one must be very humble, when one speaks of durability: a few tens of years, a maximum of two or three hundred years  »  ¹³Arman, in D. Abadie, « L’archéologie… », op. cit., p. 63.. The notion is summoned by Restany in 1960, as an argument in favor of the neo-realistic actualization: « he traditional means of pictorial expression have not resisted the extraordinary power of usury of our modern duration. [...] Time has overtaken them, they no longer account for the law of the acceleration of history which is the Rule of the Present »  ¹⁴P. Restany, unpublished tapuscrit, May 1960, Archives galerie Schema, Getty Research Institute. Reprod. in J-M Bouhours (dir.) “Arman“ op.cit. p 264..


The very procedure of the destruction of an object, which artificially accelerates its deterioration, may be a means for Arman to combat the amnesic phenomenon. The artist is actually aware that the physical mark of time can contribute to the aesthetic and therefore historical description of the work: « After the passage of time and storms, we recover the wrecks that float on the surface of our memory, even as on the banks of our emotions, we pick up objects thrown out of the sea. Time destroys. Time alters. We accept these destructions, these alterations of time, ultimately we integrate them into our system of aesthetic values, sometimes preferring what objects are today than what they were yesterday. A Greek kouros of the 6th century BC newly carved and painted with rich colors, perhaps would not awaken in us as many pleasant emotions as the same sculpture, two thousand six hundred years later, once weathered by the earth and the sun, as well as by the time » ¹⁵Arman, « Fragment… », op. cit. Reprod. in J.-M. Bouhours (dir.), Arman, op. cit., p. 258..


But regarding the phenomenon of oblivion, Arman adopts a more reassuring conception of artistic survival with the notion of a nourishing contribution. He wrote in the mid-1980s: « The chain of succession with its rounded links does not scare me, I'm glad it continues, I do not wish [...] everything to stop from were I am, it would be death; continuity gives me, will give me my reality, my salvation »  ¹⁶Arman « Les coups de cymbales » August 1985, “Le Nouvel Observateur“, Paris, August 23, 1985, p 66. The point is clarified at the end of the following decade: :« I'm happy when I see young artists who come up with something new - young people, for me, just means less old than me - people like, for example, Ashley Bickerton, Tony Cragg whom I love enormously, Bertrand Lavier, Richard Baquié [...], or Jeff Koons. I'm happy because I really feel like they've learned something from us, our generation, and transformed it. On the other hand, in my last works, I borrowed certain strategies of presentation. I am not ashamed of it; I am delighted. [...] And this game, for me, this kind of relay [...] is more important than the durability of a work that should remain as a leading light. Arman adds: « There are chosen works ; sometimes we do not know exactly why. I do not think the “Vénus de Milo“ is the most beautiful Greek sculpture, but it was elected by consensus. Likewise, I do not believe that the “Joconde“ (Mona Lisa) is the most beautiful painting of the Quattrocento. So we do not know exactly who will be chosen; we can not predict it. I rather dream about this longevity which is a kind of chain of causalities and successions »  ¹⁷Arman, in D. Abadie, « L’archéologie… », op. cit., p. 63..

There are chosen works...
Destructuration, recomposition following the gesture by using the pace for the hologram of the gesture.
EDITION SIZE: 1 Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 20,9 x 39,4 x 3,9 MEDIUM: Sliced statuette and white paint imprints on black painted wood panel.
Get out of the frame, put on a support, give body and rhythm to a collective story from a single statuette.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 6,3 x 25,2 x 6,9 MEDIUM: Sliced statuette on wood panel.
After everyday objects, return images of human (mythological) representation.
EDITION SIZE: 5 copies from 1 to 5., 3 artist proofs from EA1 to EA3, 2 HC from HC1/2 to HC2/2 , 1 copy EE1/1, 1 copy AP 1/2 TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 68,1 x 31,5 x 19,7 MEDIUM: Sliced statue, patinated bronze, brown, edge of cut polished. PUBLISHER: Arman, New York (USA) MAKER: Fonderie d'Art R. Bocquel S.A., Bréauté (France)

But to be a link in this chain implies to be known if not recognized. This ambition actually inhabits Arman, especially in the 1960s. In the year 1966, he writes from New York: : « In addition to the questions of achievement on the existential plan, I'm not happy with my American campaign and I want to punish myself and punish everyone. […] I am not recognized as I hoped to be »  ¹⁸Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1966..


This preoccupation is much more pregnant for the artist than those from the historical context marked among other things by the wars of decolonization, about which Jan Van der Marck probably overestimates the impact on his destructive approach: « [Les] Colères work like a carefully orchestrated ritual or shadow theater in which the rampant brutality of the world is expressed. [...] For Arman, the impression of disaster that is gliding above is undeniably sharpened by the experience he has of the war, in his country and abroad. The turning point of the decade in which he elaborates this gesture is marked in a disturbing way by the last surges of the withdrawal of France from Algeria: any act of violence is suspected of being an attack of the OAS, or assimilated to such an attack. Between 1961 and 1963, Arman pulverizes objects with heavy tools or explosives »  ¹⁹Jan Van der Marck, « Logicien de la forme/Magicien du geste », Arman. Selected Works : 1958-1974, La Jolla, Museum of Contemporary Art, 1974. Translated from english by Jean-François Allain. Reprod. in J.-M. Bouhours (dir.), Arman, op. cit., p. 271.. Anyway, this particular historical context remains very little evoked by the artist in his correspondence with Eliane Radigue, or else at the prism of his own career as here in 1962: «  I still have some sales to do maybe we’ll grab some dough, and we will played to “where are the dollars“. Now that the rebellion has vanished in front of the firm resolution of Debré (note France’s Prime minister then), I breathe a little because I think the business of painting will redouble the reprieve to this society being renewed »  ²⁰Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1962..

I am not recognized as I hoped to be...
The decision gesture of the Cut on the object must not be lost: this memory is kept by claiming the slice of the Cut, polished, shiny. ALWAYS SEE THE GESTURE.
EDITION SIZE: 50 copies from 1/50 to 50/50., 5 artist proofs from EA1 to EA5, 5 HC from HC1 to HC5, 10 copies from EAI to EAX, 10 copies from HCI to HCX TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 17,7 x 7,5 x 8,7 MEDIUM: Sliced statuette, welded bronze patinated green and edge of slice polished. PUBLISHER: Editions de la Différence, Paris (France) MAKER: Barelier, Paris (France)

The acknowledgement that there is a hierarchy of interests in Arman mind should certainly not make us forget the cultural bulimia of the artist, highly sensitive to History in its ethnographic, philosophical, social, political and even economic components.


Some of its aspects directly cross his concerns, especially temporal. His 1971 text “L’heure n'est pas innocente“, a reflection on the oppressive role of the objective measuring instruments of unstable time, is quite clear. Let us quote the last lines: : « The true conscious anarchist, the coherent revolutionary should apply their determination and their force to the systematic destruction and sabotage of the hour in groups and in detail, because without an effective time measure, a society can not get organized. This is a reminder of everything, the first and last hours ticked by history, in memory of the clocks of the Inquisition and the belfries of terror, in memory of the artillery chronometers of the last five minutes, from the trough at 5:45, from the “I give you ten seconds“, in memory of the timing inside the prisons and barracks, in memoriam of the death camp clocks and the clock over the Rosenberg's electric chair. In memory of the explosion of the hour 37 minutes and the micro-second of the lightening. And this for the liberation of the hour, the minute, the second, so that they are no longer in the systematic service of the enslavement of humanity and the destructuration of life. Uping the bomb's awakening, the commandos set their watches before the strike, the bombers' navigators display their time before the raid »  ²¹Arman, « L’heure n’est pas innocente », typescript text 1971, Arman New York Studio Archives. Reprod. in J-M Bouhours (dir.) “Arman“, op. cit. p 255..

Time is not innocent...
The conjugation of the Cut to pay tribute to Braque as another father of Cubism.
EDITION SIZE: 8 copies from 1/8 to 8/8., 4 artist proofs from EA1/4 to EA4/4, Modèle d'Atelier 1/1 TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 36,8 x 13,4 x 12,8 MEDIUM: Sliced guitar, bronze. PUBLISHER: Arman, New York (USA) MAKER: Arman's studio, Vence (France)

Arman says in his “Mémoires accumulés” « I'm attracted by the celestial mechanics. Clocks, dials, watches, cogs come back to my work as cult objects of a universe under the yoke of time »  ²²Arman, Mémoires…, op. cit., p. 53., déclare Arman dans ses Mémoires accumulés


At first glance, the artist's relationship to the measure of time surprises by its ambiguity. In « true coherent conscious or revolutionary anarchist », he effectively attacks many of his collective and individual instruments by neutralizing them by breaking, cutting, anonymizing piling or erratic display as with “L’Heure pour tous“ (1985), monumental accumulation of clocks marking different times. The collector, meanwhile, strove to bring together an important collection of luxury watches. Should we see in this fact another attempt to fix time by the possession of its mechanical markers? This is perhaps what must be understood from this reflection by Arman on relative fractional time, the central theme of his book “Passe-temps“ (1971): « Time does not exist, memory alone creates it. [...] the clock, the regulator, the chronometer, the watch, the clock, the clock, the cartel, the hourglass, the sundial, the clepsydra, etc., etc. (we can add some). It is this accumulation, small universes, pocket galaxies, that I consider with the eyes of the child and my memory so that beyond the meaning and the contingency I find life, space and therefore, even if it does not exist, time, my time  »  ²³Arman, Passe-temps, Genève, Rousseau, 1971. Extrait in J.-M. Bouhours (dir.), Arman, op. cit., p. 254..

The time, my time...
The complexity of the object more difficult to destructure to find the issues generates the telling of a story.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 35 x 45,7 x 5,9 MEDIUM: Smashed typewriter on a wood panel.

4. Attraction and repulsion

The issues related to the need to survive and to be recognized explain in Arman’s case the price attached to everything that can come in the consolidation of his nascent career. To the point of exacerbating his impatience. In October 1960, he writes «  I still do not have anything in the gallery, everything is slowly coming and going, I’m incandescent with rage »  ¹Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, october 1960. All the Letters cited here, whether entirely or in part, are stored in the archives of the Fondation A.R.M.A.N. We’d like to point out that, if we made minor spelling corrections, we have kept the original ponctuation of these documents which can be read on line., in the context of setting up his exhibition “Le Plein“ held at Galerie Iris Clert  ²And the same year, in a letter ending with « I am rage » which doesn’t necessarily apply the artistic question, Arman confides : «  I am still a little tired I haven’t fully physically recovered yet. I miss you, the sun. I oscillate between tiredness and fury and the most depressing that all : the wait » (1960)..
And a few months later: « I go through horrible moments of expectation, my body is broken up into a thousand molecules uncomfortable at each of their place and dissociated irremediably. I’m waiting for news I’m waiting for the sun I’m waiting for my exhibitions I’m waiting for money with the disgust and enormous nausea due to ​​the moral effort expected. I'm waiting for you. I'm waiting for me I'm waiting at night for my sleep and I'm anxious to meet it and to pursue it tirelessly. I’m waiting for the next day I’m waiting for catastrophes I’m waiting for unheard men (in the sense that they have never been heard of) I’m waiting for your gaze I’m waiting for the next step I must live and create the next step I’m waiting because I am on my feet and that at no time will I worry about sitting down, my heart beats too fast for that and not enough to fly faster than any expectation »  ³Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1961..
I am incandescent with rage...
The career imperative still gives rise to more or less deep and tenacious resentments in the case of personal « betrayal », calling for verbal or behavioral retaliation. Recalling the failure of discussions with art dealer Jean Fournier conducted during the years 1959-1960 in view of a personal exhibition, Arman explains: « I could not understand why the guy who found my work interesting would not exhibit it immediately. [...] after the second meeting, I gave up. I was very inexpert at the time. I wanted something and I did not know how to express it. I made myself a lot of enemies » Arman, Mémoires accumulés. Entretiens avec Otto Hahn, Paris, Belfond, coll. « entretiens », 1992, p. 28-29. Eliane brings a confirmation at the time of the facts : « you forget your possibilities of clumsiness, you forget your way of jumping on people holding them by the throat which brings an instinctive reflex of recoil and in the psychological moments the least well chosen ». (E. Radigue, letter to Arman, v. 1960)..
In June 1960, the artist also terminated all relations with the director of the Galerie Internationale d’Art Contemporain, Maurice d'Arquian, the latter having neglected to honour an appointment in Brussels that had forced Arman to take a loan to finance the trip. He reports: « I caught him over the phone [...]. I retort to him, “You are a pig!“ He was stunned. In the continuation, arises a dispute with Rolf Jährling, the director of the Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal (Germany), after the deprogramming of an exhibition dedicated to the “Allures“, in favor of a Jacques Hérold whose notoriety was higher at the time: « I saw Jaerling (sic) in New York [...]. The art dealer came to sit near me. I told him “Go away!, I don’t want to see you“. [...] “There is room over there, don’t stick to me, I have nothing to say to you “. […] I saw him again five or six years later [...]. He wanted to buy me some pieces. I told him, “Not only won’t I sell you a thing, but I won’t even shake your hand“4 ». In this context of evocation, the rancorous reaction is put on the account of a pride which is incompatible with any kind of compromise. « Even very poor, Arman assures, I never knelt down. This has to do with my Spanish side. Rather than asking, I would die facing the wall. If one were to shoot me, I would not implore grace, I would refuse the glass of rum, I would not want to be blindfolded. And if I have a loose leg, I would kick someone with it, or I would bite the finger of the officer who is leading the firing squad  » Ibid., p. 94-95..
Even very poor I never knelt down...
The harp, important instrument. (Eliane and his first son Yves were playing the harp.)
EDITION SIZE: 8 copies from 1/8 to 8/8., 4 artist proofs from EA1/4 to EA4/4, 2 HC from HC1/2 to HC2/2 TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 66,1 x 56,7 x 17,3 MEDIUM: Smashed harp, patinated bronze. PUBLISHER: Arman, New York (USA) MAKER: Fonderie d'Art R. Bocquel S.A., Bréauté (France)
With such a mental configuration, disloyalty of a loved one, real or supposed, is unbearable. The letter that the artist stamped on June 26th, 1959 is striking:« I learned that the Prix Lissonne had sent its invitations, Yves [Klein] has received his, I didn’t. Here again I am left behind, I will clarify all this and I want to know if it is Lenocci or Restany that I must knock out. I can not wait to hear Pierre [Restany's] answer to my official request. If he was to let me down, I would be on the verge of a murder » Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, stamped June 26, 1959. In his “mémoires accumulés“, Arman talks about a feud with Restany and Klein reading his “Lustre accumulation“ of 1959-1961. See, Arman “mémoires…“, op.cit. p 43-44.. At the time when the suspicion arises against the art critic, Arman is having with him a relationship based on friendship, respect and admiration.
These elements also operate in the relationship between the couple Éliane and Arman, increased by a profound feeling of love. The two of them formed in the 1950s a couple of artists sharing « musical adventure » and « pictorial adventure » in a relationship of mutual construction that will go beyond the material support, and beyond a cultural and intellectual enrichment favored by an initial convergence defined by Arman in a 1961 letter: « […] it seems to me impossible to dissociate ourselves in our experiences and our results, although superficially we have different tastes and choices I think we are very similar and especially with the same agenda and the same options about the absolute and the future » Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1961. At least initially, Eliane seems to share this feeling : « Very cherished love, you know it would be premature to announce any kind of prophecy, but I can’t help to think and to believe with faith and trust in a work of art that we’re destined to accomplish together. I believe in the multiplication of the forces thru a true union, in this symbol, often not well understood, and whose only value is the one you want to give to put and put in it. And the hope is so good, this light, this gushing spring of new life with multiple variations. » (É. Radigue, Letter to Arman, 1952)..
It seems to me impossible to dissociate ourselves...
In the early days of her relationship with Arman, Éliane Radigue seems to see in the artist a source of advice and encouragement, but especially of « vital » strengthening. So she wrote in 1953: « It's awful but I really can’t do anything anymore without you. You are an integral part of my life, of the smallest facts of my life and especially of me, of which you are the force that directs the energy » É. Radigue, Letter to Arman, 1953.. And again, probably in 1957: « Come back quickly give me your strength I need to parasite you to immerse myself in your aura to find the strength » É. Radigue, Letter to Arman, c. 1957..
When reading some of Arman’s letters, it seems that he is able to assume at least punctually this nourishing role, here in 1957: « When reading some of Arman’s letters, it seems that he is able to assume at least punctually this nourishing role, here in 1957: « I always find it a bit strange the people, not to say the strangers, who talk to me about suicide I have such provisions of every thing inside me that I cannot understand the unarmed who raise their arms in the air stretching their neck I can say that I am unable to consider suicide in conditions other than the incurable and unbearable disease and perhaps to save more than me if it was indispensable and again I am staking up regarding this eventuality »  ¹⁰Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, stamped on October 11th 1957.. In 1965, he mentions again his «  great strength of creation and analysis that is the basis of almost all movements of [his] soul »  ¹¹Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1965..
Find the strength...

But despite this solidity periodically displayed throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Arman feels the need to rely on his wife to « solidify » his existence as a man and an artist - as she invited him to do at the beginning of their relationship ¹²n the early 1950s, Eliane let him know : « […] now I’m sure that I love you as I’ve never loved yet and first of all its that insurance you must keep deep down in you as a shrine where you wail seek a shelter and dip your strength in the hard times ». (E Radigue, letter à arman, 1952).. He writes in 1952: « It is absolutely necessary that you trust me, I know what you can fear and think but it is it is only if you doubt that I will weaken » ¹³Arman, Letter to É. Radigue 1952.. And ten years later, on the back of the invitation to the “Musical Rage“ an event starting on August 14th at Galerie Saqqârah : « […] the poster is wonderful but if I do not even have your indulgent smile behind me I am no longer armed » ¹⁴Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1962.. In this regard, the multiple geographic separations weigh heavily on the artist, who observes in 1962:«  As always separation sharpens the blade that cuts the time between us, more time more space. The cut is so fine that it is imperceptible »  ¹⁵Arman, Letter to É. Radigue 1962..

But in this couple built on interdependence, Arman will eventually identify an asymmetry in disfavor of Eliane Radigue, as evidenced by this passage from a 1960 letter:«   I am sad when I consider what I bring you I am not that solid man that you would have needed I am only a poor boy with his problems and without any great vision of the world that would be applicable as a solution, no, I am this Proteus hanging on an idea a little idea and all the gold of Golconda disposed at your feet would not redeem those anxieties that a weak person is bringing to your soul, and I do not even know how to offer you all that I love for you, and I am very much afraid that the approaching moment where I will be able to give you a little bit you will be worn out, dried of the pleasure of receiving because you have waited too much »  ¹⁶Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1960..

You have waited too much...
The imbalance of the contributions will be accentuated by the progressive affirmation of a fundamental divergence of personalities, pointed out by Éliane Radigue in a 1961 missive: « I love the rustling noise of this peaceful life. You like the rumors of the jungle I need to breathe some calm and some rest, you have to consume the most vital of your wild energy in wild fights, I found the quiet voice of meditative silence and you have to shape yourself in a sound of forges and hell. Receptive, I offer myself to welcome any form of thought, of life, empty on the other hand, you print your prospective seal, your mark on all that approaches you how to reconcile these fundamental antagonisms in a unique life which is our destiny double entity that we chose to be ? ? »  ¹⁷É. Radigue, Letter to Arman, v. 1961..
Moreover, the implementation of the wastes by Arman, really initiated in December 1959 in the presence of Eliane Radigue, radically alienates the latter from the creative activity of her husband, she had followed his activity until then in a report of complete membership. She even speaks of an « intellectual divorce ». Regarding this Arman reports: « [For the] first “poubelle“ (trash), [Eliane] issued this sentence ... that I find very beautiful ... […]: « Arman, between us it can not go along anymore, because I'm for the ascending metaphor and you are for the descending metaphor »  ¹⁸Arman, in Pierre Baracca, Pierre, Geneviève Roussel, Marie-Claire Trân Van-Nory, Arman, un entretien d’artiste (2004). Le texte et ses conditions de production, Paris, L’Harmattan, coll. « Logiques sociales », 2010, p. 24.. Let us quote this time Eliane: « I was [...] appalled by this stele, which for me was much more like a funerary stele than a positive work »  ¹⁹É. Radigue, words collected by the author, january 2002.. As early as 1960, the statement leads to a warning from the composer who is an adept of Georges Gurdjieff’s essentialist precepts: « […] no more than I believe that a just end can be brought by unjust means, I do not think that a just man can blossom through unhealthy, dishonest, or even sordid situations or acts. Unless one has a great opportunity to get back on ones feet, one needs enough insight and sensitivity to know the risks of a definitive break or crack and stop in time »  ²⁰É. Radigue, Letter to Arman, 1960..The opposition between the two will however fade behind their understanding of the importance for Arman to conduct the upcoming battle: « [...] I don’t reproach you for choosing a war that I disavow, but for choosing the principles of the war. Whatever one might say, the righteous man can also manifest in fights where their is compromise. Now I want you to know that if I accepted to let you engage yourself in this fight, it is because I objectively realized it was necessary for you, and I loyally consented to see you engage in the fight »  ²¹É. Radigue, Letter to Arman, 1960..
Bestia Ferita...
The challenge to Newton: the ability to push the limits of intervention on an object.
EDITION SIZE: 8 copies from 1/8 to 8/8., 4 artist proofs from EA1/4 to EA4/4 TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 31,5 x 68,9 x 29,5 MEDIUM: Sliced motorbicycle, cast in bronze. PUBLISHER: Diego Strazzer, Verona (Italy) MAKER: Vaghi Foundry, Milano (Italy)
Back to the origin of the gesture of the cut: see the inside of things.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 28,9 x 24,8 x 5,3 MEDIUM: Sliced sweeving machine in concrete, wooden frame.
One of his favorite instruments, in proportion to the human: the double bass.
EDITION SIZE: 8 copies from 1/8 to 8/8., 2 HC from HC1/2 to HC2/2 TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 72,8 x 35,4 x 15,7 MEDIUM: Cast in bronze smashed bass. PUBLISHER: Arman, New York (USA) MAKER: Fonderie d'Art R. Bocquel S.A., Bréauté (France)
The decision to shape the container.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Combustion. DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 34,6 MEDIUM: Burned violin embedded in polyester mannequin torso.
The specificities of the mentalities, the cultural divergences and finally the gradual disappearance of Eliane Radigue's career ambition in front of her husband's, have gradually led the couple to redefine itself through a project of parallel construction over two continents, befor finally making the choice of an effective separation in the early 1960s. A choice justified from 1961 by Arman's deep desire to settle in New York despite the resistance of his wife: "I needed New York. [...] I felt the urge to settle in New York and I sacrificed my house, my family, my children to this imperative »  ²² Arman, “mémoires…“ op.cit. p 77. From 1963 thru 1967, Arman only sees his wife and his children who have remained in France three months a year, as their try to settle down in NY having failed. As he quotes it in the same opus (p 76) « my wife made the effort, in 1963, to come with the children…she had nervous breakdown after nervous breakdown…She didn’t support NY’s atmosphere ». ».
The pursuit of a long distance relationship, lived painfully and in parallel with other exposed relationships, seems to be part of a self-destructive logic identified by Arman in a 1965 letter: « […] it is obvious that if each separation must bring tragedies and you become more and more vulnerable or more and more furious, our union is more destructive than constructive. I love you but it is painful for me to see that I am only able to make you suffer (...). Anyway I think I am unfortunately destined to make suffer  » ²³Arman, letter à E. Radigue, 1965. The proposal to serarate which comes after these words will come into effect at the end of the 1960s – A sentence confirmed by Eliane: « Now I am waiting for you to find yourself even if it is still to be devoured, until my destruction for what I love you »  ²⁴É. Radigue, Letter to Arman, 1965. Maybe this perspective is no longer invested with an aesthetic dimension talked about in a letter from the early 1950s : «  I love you and I am happy to love you, happy at the perspective to live with this love, even though, at the end, suffering is waiting for us. If we don’t have time to become quiet before it reaches us. If we already suffer, it's so beautiful, so beautiful it’s worth all the sufferings » (E. Radigue, letter à Arman v. 1953).
During the year 1967, Arman identifies a possible origin of his destructive propensity : « [...] I hasten to demolish what represents everything to me as soon as I have the impression that I possess it forever, I believe that there is a refusal of death, of growing old [...]. [...] I have become old [...] I will never be young again […]  »  ²⁵Arman, Letter to É. Radigue 1967.. Another path may be to follow from the epistolary source : that one, several times mentioned, of self-destruction. « I have a kind gentle masochistic impression to find myself so far from you, a sort of punishment following very real crimes that I feel I possibly committed, for I believe to be very puritanical and I have difficulties to forgive myself, it is the only explanation I can conceive regarding this organized self-destruction which is my view and this all king catastrophy genius that I have endeavored to create  »  ²⁶ Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, novembre 1965., says the artist in 1965. The following year, he writes: « I always hope that you will be able to face the reality of our two lives because I believe that one must still consider and always save me from myself. I am not only destructive to others, but also and especially to myself and I am so tired of myself of my affectations and my games »  ²⁷Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1966.. And again: « […] I am frightened myself by the amount of self-destruction and destruction [that] I carry within me. [...] not being dominated nor recognized I need a saga that inclines my imagination until I regain all in the doldrums […] »  ²⁸Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1966.. A process of retrieval whose achievements may be related to identity: « I also know that I need this suffering a few days from time to time to know that duality exists and I am this duality »  ²⁹Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1961..
I am this duality...
Appropriation of "kitch" to make a reformulation and give a new meaning. (The "fighting cock saber", another version of "the sprinkler watered. »)
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 48,8 x 32,3 MEDIUM: Sliced oil painting on wood panel.
Eve give and take: title and staging that tells a story, which could be at least partly autobiographical.
EDITION SIZE: 5 copies from 1/5 to 5/5., 2 artist proofs from EA1/2 to EA2/2, 2 HC from HC1/2 to HC2/2 TECHNIQUE: Gods and Goddesses. DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 38,6 x 20,5 x 14,2 MEDIUM: Sliced antique statue cast in bronze, black patina, edge of cut polished. PUBLISHER: Arman, New York (USA) MAKER: Fonderie d'Art R. Bocquel S.A., Bréauté (France)

The story of the couple Eliane/Arman shows the possibility of a cohabitation between love and destruction. Without dismissing the part of humor and possible temporary frustration in the register of conjugal jealousy, it may seem enlightening to quote the last words of another letter from Arman to his wife, stamped January 19th, 1957. After a reflection on the thermal cycles which according to him influences the humanity every 30 or 60 years, he warns : « [...] all of this does not count compared to the annealed hatred that I dedicate you a good hodgepodge of chilled revenge and impulses of tenderness irresistibly directed towards your destruction and your liquefaction in a space where even the ideas cannot subsist in an atmosphere too saturated with malevolence. I love you implacably, like the worm in the fruit and the salt on the bone in the desert ». And the artist to sign in capital letters : « Your servile suffering Armand » ³⁰Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, stamped on january 19 1957. Let’s mention that the hypothesis of a loss of love by Arman for his wife in the second half of the 1950s is to be thwarted..


Let's continue with this excerpt from a letter stamped on November 4th of the same year: « My dear heart, I am accusing myself this morning of a terrible attack of rage, when The Mother told me that you were not there. I wrote and meditated a very Middle Ages and very scopionnesque dark and dreadful vengeance. I love you. I love you »  ³¹Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, stamped on November 4 1957.. Here is expressed a feeling of jealousy already mentioned in a letter written the same month after a telephone conversation : « Yes, I was tensed and uncomfortable. Put yourself in my shoes and instead of complaining about it congratulate yourself about it because: the jealousy, the anxiety, the melancholy and the instability I felt could and can only be attributed to love. And indifference is, according to me, much more grave than the inconveniences of a excessively exclusive and absolute affection »  ³²Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, Radigue stamped on November 21st 1957. In several letters, Eliane Radigue also writes she feels jealous. It inspire her this : «  I wonder why we need to be exclusive, especially in love. Even though it differs in form and it is maternal, filial, or it’s the lovers’ love, it’s always the same in essence and it always goes hand in hand with this insidious snake, jealousy. I’d bet it has to do with our vanity. I wonder when it will be destroyed ».. Let us conclude with this passage of a letter of 1961 : « My immense territory to be conquered unceasingly believe me I will make war on you and bring fire and desolation to the deepest of your mountains and maybe then, momentary and illusory conqueror, I will be your slave »  ³³Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1961. His wife uses a similar language : « I’m sewing to myself a cloth of inner celebration to greet you, I polish my arms to soften them, I sharpen my nails to claw you better, my teeth to bite you better, I prepare my lips to kiss you, I prepare my hands to caress you, I prepare my joy to make yours ». (E. Radigue, letter à Arman, 1956)..

Eve give and take...
The question of the interlocutor by telephone interposed ... In 1967, the rupture of communication in the sentimental life of Arman is lived like a catastrophe. The object-phone, like the watch or the alarm clock, is a key object of the artist's concerns.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 9,8 x 9,8 x 9,8 MEDIUM: Broken telephon in a polyester cube.
Is the principle of a convergence of love, destruction and suffering directly or indirectly applicable to Arman's creative process? This is a working hypothesis (eminently perilous for the art historian) suggested in particular by a letter from the artist dated from 1964:«  I having a bad time because my studio is almost empty and I do not like going there. I do not feel unfortunate enough to go back to work hard so I work on trifles »  ³⁴Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, 1964. - a confidence that is closer to an earlier reflection of Eliane Radigue : « I am happy that the painting has grabbed you back I know what are these inner kinds of crises that generally announce a richer and more fruitful period » ³⁵É. Radigue, Letter to Arman, 1956.. But Arman is more explicit in an interview with Alain Jouffroy in 1965, where he is questioned on the ideal profile of the spectators looking at his “Accumulations“. In his answer, he refers to two cases. The first is that of the viewer who reacts violently and physically against a work that bothers him.
The second is that of the viewer who can react just as violently, but for the opposite reason: « [...] it would be for me a pleasant spectator [...] the one who would be attracted enough [by an Accumulation] so that he would want to take it at all costs, or that he would want to destroy it : attraction and repulsion are so close to each other » ³⁶Arman, in Alain Jouffroy, « Arman », entretien avec l’artiste, L’Œil, Paris, n° 126, juin 1965, p. 48..
Attraction and repulsion are so close...
Provided we could detect anything esle than a provocative positioning, this statement prompts us to identify another possible relationship between Arman and the destruction of an object, which would become a sort of testimony of attraction or attachment which is other than intellectual. Many of the artist's contributions is pointed in this direction, first of all by calling on the notion of formal attachment. Questioned about the modalities of the choice of his objects, he explains : « There are objects that attract more than others. The violin, for example. I was not the first to be seduced by this form. Picasso, Braque and Juan Gris have already flirted with musical instruments. The violin, the cello, the guitar, because of their feminine lines, lend themselves to artistic treatments »  ³⁷Arman, Mémoires…, op. cit., p. 53..
his formal seduction may be interfering, but in a more punctual way, with an affective attachment. This is what emerges from a letter in September 1961 in which Arman announces to his wife the achievement of the “Colère“ titled “NBC Rage“, in front of the cameras of the US television network of the same name: « […] I bought a double bass [...]. She is big and very beautiful, I will break her the day after tomorrow after a honeymoon unequaled where I will give my fingers to her cords and at dawn she dies or rather will volatilize between my strong arms and even I will finish her kicking » ³⁸É. Radigue, Arman, letter to É. Radigue, 1961, quoted in Christine Siméone, Elianarman. Bye Bye ma muse, Genève, Fondation A.R.M.A.N., 2008, p. 138-139.. An older letter from Éliane Radigue therefore draws attention : « Without looking too much for your wrath and incomprehension do not you think that you treat me a little too much like any of the objects that you feel pampered in the measure of your needs and jostled according to your whims (blunt saber, multiple deterioration and almost universal peculiar to the universe of Armand subjected to the weather requirements of its only whims that it is powerless to dominate) »  ³⁹É. Radigue, Letter to Arman, v. 1959..
Today 8 PM...
With restructuring, the object becomes the bearer of a message and a poetic.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 36,6 x 26,4 x 4,7 MEDIUM: Smashed violin on a wooden panel.
In the Armanian view, how can we explain this form of confusion between attraction and repulsion, which we find as a symptom of schizophrenic discordance ? An Arman text written in 1989 provides a fairly convincing answer. He directly links the passion of the para-sculptor for African art, of which he became a recognized specialist, to the threat of the disappearance of this production in the more or less short term : « It is at the precise moment when we will lose something that the qualities of this thing suddenly appear to us with the most strength and reality. It is like the return of a lost sheep: when we have found it, it is dearer to us than ever. [...] And if we only have a single fragment [...], this fragment makes us sign as a hand stretched over the water with the insistence of what is irrattrapable »  ⁴⁰ Arman, “Fragments of the sublime“ NY, J. Camp, 1980. Translated from english by Jean-François Allain. Reprod in Jean-Michel Bouhours (dir.) “Arman“ cat. exp., Paris, Centre Pompidou, September 22, 2010 - January 10, 2011, p 158..
If it is transposed to the case of Arman's destruction, one could say that the fragmentation or burning of the object increases the affective attachment of the artist to this object. And one could go further by speculating that this attachment is proportional to the degree of destruction of the object, which never reaches the stage of total annihilation. To preserve the possibility of identification of this object, which is the very condition of its attachment, Arman has always attached great importance to the problem of its conservation, as he explains to Daniel Abadie : « [...] even when I break an object, I arrange for all pieces to fall back into a given space, which I have delimited with large boards ; or, when I burn something, I stop the combustion, as a cook stops his roast before it is overcooked, so it's not a complete destruction, but a partial destruction that allows me to keep it »  ⁴¹ Arman, in Daniel Abadie, « L’archéologie du futur », Daniel Abadie (dir.), Arman, cat. exp., Paris, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume/Rmn, 1998, p. 37..
A partial destruction... which allows me to keep it
The memory of a performance. (Galerie Saqqârah, Gstaad, August 14, 1962.)
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 73,2 x 118,9 x 18,9 MEDIUM: Smashed piano on a wood panel, a work realized in public in August 1962 as part of the exhibition "Musical Rage" Galerie Saqqarah (Gstaad, Switzerland).

5. The mental and physical mastery of a creative process

Arman's will to delimit and stop the process of destruction of the object restrains his more or less underlying justification, linked to a form of violence, anxiety or emotional ambivalence. Like the sociological argument, thatof the mental determinism, mainly called with the “Accumulations“  ¹Arman indeed explains : « … I think it’s genetic. I had a grand-father and a grand-mother who accumulated. I put into boxes, corks stamped with the year of the bottle, threads and strings with knots…My great-grand-father bought every item in series even though he only used one of them. It was reassuring… Myself at a very early age, I collected a lot ». (Pierre Barbancey, “Arman : les artistes sont les féticheurs de la société », L’Humanité, Paris, September 10, 1998)., has finally remained minored in his public discourse i.e. the official one.
In his media speeches, the artist has largely affirmed the predominance of the conscious motivation, and more specifically of the aesthetic motivation, while taking care to emphasize that « the problem is not to achieve a perfect accumulation or the most aesthetic cut  »  ² Arman, in Arman, Otto Hahn, « Entretien avec Arman », Aude Bodet (dir.), Arman. Consigne à vie. L’Heure de tous, Paris, Centre national des arts plastiques, 2014, p. 18.. « He declares for example in 1992 « I was influenced by abstraction, by Van Gogh, by Pollock. It is enough to say that the aesthetic reflection is not absent. »  ³ Arman, Mémoires accumulés. Entretiens avec Otto Hahn, Paris, Belfond, coll. « entretiens », 1992, p. 41.. Three years ago he said: « I show you objects placed in different situations, from their evidence in the accumulation ... all the way to the most complex and Byzantine effects of objects mixed or transformed by sculptural processes, because through para-philosophical and sociological situations, I remain a sculptor and a painter whose ambition before making a speech about ourselves or our civilization, is to produce a work of art, a sculpture, a painting or a painting-sculpture, an assembly with a visual and aesthetic destination »  Arman, « Le montreur »,  collectif “Arman. Retrospektiv“, cat. exp., Lunds Kunsthalle-Malmö, Galleri GKM, 1989, quoted in « P. Restany, Un destin de star, enfin », Gilbert Perlein (dir.), “Arman. Passage à l’acte“, cat. exp., Nice, Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, June 16 - October 24, 2001, Paris, Skira/Seuil, 2001 , p 22..
Produce a work of art...
The simplicity and rigor of the recomposition.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 29,1 x 17,9 x 2 MEDIUM: Smached flute on wood panel.
Cubist and tribute to his admiration for analytical cubism. Destructuration and recomposition: see the screws, nails, staples in the composition will and the filling ability of the space.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 19,7 x 15,7 x 3,9 MEDIUM: Sliced coffee mill on panel.
With the para-sculptor, taking into account this essential aesthetic dimension asserts itself through the three stages of the creation process, and first of all in its premeditation. The testimony of founder Régis Bocquel is striking : « [Arman] knew exactly what he wanted - it was very impressive. He made sketches during his flights, he had his little notebooks, everything was already thought, thought in advance. When he arrived, he already had everything in mind. We never had to dismantle (perhaps once) or to redo a work » Régis Bocquel, in Aude Bodet, « Entretien avec Régis Bocquel », A. Bodet (dir.), Arman…, op. cit., p. 25.. Thus, when the artist went to Düsseldorf in 1963 to prepare his exhibition “Colères et Coupures“ at the Galerie Schmela, he asked the art dealer to provide him a carpentry workshop and sent him a list of detailed supplies : musical instruments, painting and more panels.
In the phase of anticipation, the choice of supports is made in particular according to the chromatic criterion. « I have always used three colors for backgrounds : white, red and black; or sometimes natural wood. And I play with it in the composition » Arman, in Daniel Abadie, « L’archéologie du futur », Daniel Abadie (dir.), Arman, cat. exp., Paris, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume/Rmn, 1998, p. 45., says Arman, who is also sensitive to the colorful contribution of inclusion in the plastics : « embedded objects - partially or completely included - change in quality. That is to say, there is a film phenomenon that adds a golden side, by the air that has been trapped between the object and the plastic, or a very interesting wet side » Tita Reut « Arman », entretien avec l’artiste, « Les matières plastiques dans l’art contemporain“ cat. exp. Oyonnax, Valexpo, 1992. Excerpts reused in « Chimériques Polymère. Le plastique dans l’art du XXe siècle », cat. exp., Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain de la ville de Nice, 1996, p 171-172.. Here we find a fundamentally pictorial concern, affirmed especially for the inclusions of colored tubes in plexiglas or polyester, tested from the mid-1960s : « I started as a painter. It may be a way to hang on to my first love. I physically, practically need, to touch the color » Arman, in D. Abadie, « L’archéologie… », op. cit., p. 45..
See screws, nails, staples...
A presentation solution to return to the basic gesture for an iconic diversion: the cut.
EDITION SIZE: 4 copies from 1 to 4., 1 artist proofs EA1 TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 78,7 x 39,4 x 28 MEDIUM: Sliced bronze copy of an Lenin sculpture, steel box, patinated bronze. PUBLISHER: Patrice Trigano Gallery, Paris (France) MAKER: Fonderie d'Art R. Bocquel S.A., Bréauté (France)
Partially oxidized trombone in concrete anatomical section: complementarity of colors, materials, textures.
1970 - circa
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 39,4 x 31,5 x 6,3 MEDIUM: Sliced trombone in concrete, wooden frame.

Then, objects chosen to be subjected to destructive procedures are not based on the visual indifference dear to the Duchamp of the Ready-mades. Most often, they are artifacts selected according to an expressive potential that partly conditions the destruction procedure applied to them. As Arman has noted, « [there] is a logic in the destruction : if one breaks a rectangular box, one obtains a cubist composition ; if you break a cello, you end up with a romantic result » Arman, quoted in dans O. Hahn, Arman, Paris, Fernand Hazan, coll. « Ateliers d’aujourd’hui », 1972, p. 47.. The artist, who has become for a long time the instrument-maker of the Nouveau Réalisme »  ¹⁰Arman, quoted in Dominique Widemann, « Arman joue les accordeurs », L’Humanité, Paris, februray 2 1998., makes here a specific reference to the formal value. But it is obvious that one can also speak, at least in the case of the instruments of the quartet, of a cultural and still intellectual value, which comes to associate with the sculptural value. Arman is also fully aware that the destruction of these instruments is iconoclastic. To the question « What would be the psychological value of the “Colères d’Objet“ ? He replies : « In the scandalous fact of having subjected an object to a transformation which is not intended for it : to cut a violin into thin slices is a scandalous act. [...] I was always aware that the operation was incongruous, even though I was doing it very seriously »  ¹¹Arman, in Alain Jouffroy, « Arman », entretien avec l’artiste, L’Œil, Paris, n° 126, june 1965, p. 48.. And also, one can add, out of any desire to settle violent account with music and musicians.


Second essential point of a general rule urging us not to overvalue in the artist the influence of unconscious drives : Arman largely controls the physical process of creation. As Pierre Restany points out about the “Allures“, « [each] object has its way of writing, one that is natural to it. And Arman does not work against nature. It is a conductor who works on music score taking into account the specific registers of each instrument. The intensity, intent, scope of each gesture varies according to the object used. Each object is assigned a gesture and the synchronization of gestures creates the harmonic unity of the work » ¹²Pierre Restany, « À toute allure », text introducing the exhibition “Arman. Allures d’objets“ Galerie Saint-Germain, Paris, March-April 1960.


This is also true for “Allure-Colères“ and for “Colères“ : « The object determines its accumulation as well as its breaking. [...] for the “Colères“ : the object conditions its own bursting process and the physionomy of its very debris. There are [...] variable destruction thresholds for each object. Cuts, explosions or combustions are technical variants, stylistic refinements of the objective language of rage »  ¹³P. Restany, « Arman », Henry Martin, Arman, Paris, Pierre Horay, 1973, p. 13. Text written in 1967-1968.

Architubi Armanis
Explore a presentation strategy. Object, form, matter, color: four bases of the discourse of the Armanian method.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 12,2 x 8,7 x 2,8 MEDIUM: Sliced camera.
Violin in his case. The link to aesthetics.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 35 x 25 x 6 MEDIUM: Sliced violin with case embedded in concrete, with wood box

According to Arman, his gestural mastery is a legacy of the martial arts and in particular of judo, which he practiced from 1947, until he obtained the rank of the 1st Dan black belt. But by clearly establishing the link between the martial arts and his destructions of objects, he empties the destructions of their angry substance : « [I make a “Colère“] like a projection of judo. I'm not really angry. [...] for me, it's almost as accurate as a judo throwing. I angticipate where I am going to throw, where I am going to break ; [...] it is a destruction more or less planned »  ¹⁴Arman, in D. Abadie, « L’archéologie… », op. cit., p. 61. Please note that the link between Arman martial and artistic practices was reaffirmed in the early 1970s in the context of outdoors demonstrations of wushu amongst representing calligraphed traces of objects (imprints)..


The approach thus justifies the formula of Restany making the “Colère“ an act of « appropriative surgery », fruit of a « power of nerve concentration [...] extraodinary » ¹⁵P. Restany, « Arman », Henry Martin, Arman, Paris, Pierre Horay, 1973, p. 16, 1.. In this practice of the “Colères“, the autonomy of fragments of objects generated by the burst does not negate the possibility of a hold on the process of destruction. Arman, who would have earned the rank of "9th Dan professional in art" »  ¹⁶Emmanuelle Ollier « Arman et l’esprit du Bushido. La quête du geste parait », Jean-Michel Bouhours (dir.), « Arman », cat. exp., Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, September 22, 2010 - January 10, 2011, p 47, was indeed quickly able to anticipate the main effects of what he called the « self-composition » of the components of his works. As he observes : « When five or six violins have been broken, we know what will happen, nothing being more controllable than chance »  ¹⁷Arman, in Dominique Widemann, « Arman joue les accordeurs »,  L’Humanité, Paris, 2 février 1998.. Especially when it is in a certain way physically constrained, as Arman predicts in the creation of the 1963 “Banjo Solo“ : « So I took the instrument, pierced it [...] then slipped [...] a small charge of explosive. I put that stuffed banjo on a wooden panel and then I fixed a wick to the detonator I pulled back I fired it [...] I covered quickly all with a mattress so that the chips remain grouped on the panel and this is what happened ».

I calculate where I will project...
Nevertheless, the jurisprudence does not necessarily imply the automaticity of a martial gesture that would require to go « with » and not « against » the object in projection, because of a principle recalled by Restany : « Each piece is in itself a special case and for the artist a problem to solve. The solution is empirical, it depends as much on proportional calculation as on intuition » ¹⁹P. Restany, « Arman », op. cit., p. 16.. In fact, Arman « does not proceed in the same way to destroy a violin as an accordion. In this sense, the holding of the object as that of the adversary in judo constitutes a determining phase for getting kinesthetic information » ²⁰E. Ollier, « Arman… », op. cit., p. 51.
Finally, in the final phase of the work of creation of the “Colères“, the artist applies a strategy of presentation which is still a discourse of the method incorporating the evolutionary parameter. « In my work », he says, « things are coming back. For example, I broke a violin and then stuck the debris on a board. Then I broke the violin by putting the fragments in plastic. I took the break of the musical instrument, but drowned in the concrete, then the broken violin comes back, covered with splashes of paint. I only allow myself to take back a gesture when I can present it differently  » ²¹Arman, Mémoires…, op. cit., p. 135..
The methodical treaty of the destructuring...
The "massacre" in all the possible forms = the methodical treaty of the destructuration.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut), combustion, colère DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 63 x 128 x 5,9 MEDIUM: Smashed, burned, sliced violins and bows with paint traces on a wood panel.
In the “Colères“ or the “Coupes“, Arman can also intervene in the reasoned recomposition of fragments - controlled immobilization being another great principle of judo. Significantly, he speaks of « Applied Cubism » ²²Arman, quoted in Pierre Cabanne, Arman, Paris, La Différence, coll. « Classique du XXIe siècle », 1993, p. 22., justifying for this case a commentary of June 1962 on the Nouveaux Réalistes : « What also separates us from Dadaists is that we seek beauty. It seems to me that the lacerated posters of Hains, the sponges of Klein are not far removed from abstract art, nor from the compositions of certain contemporary works. My “Colères“, for example [...] are reminiscent of cubist paintings. As for old objects, I'm sure we'll see some surrealist memories. If you want, we would be much more consciously artists than the Dadaists » ²³Arman, in Pierre Descargues, « Arman : Colères et Accumulations », La Tribune de Lausanne, Lausanne, 3 juin 1962.. The para-sculptor, however, specifies that his « Spanish side injects a dose of essential madness and saves him from the perfection of Braque, whose colors and forms are admirably balanced  » ²⁴Arman, Mémoires…, op. cit., p. 91.. Régis Bocquel probably does not say anything else when he talks about Arman : « But randomness suited him well too. I do not know of any other artist who had as much as him this methodical side, while keeping a rough side, a part of improvisation when he made a “Colère“ »  ²⁵ Régis Bocquel, in Aude Bodet, « Entretien avec Régis Bocquel », A. Bodet (dir.), Arman…, op. cit., p. 25..
A dose of essential madness... (the soil of the studio...)
With the cuts of statues included in the concrete, accomplishing the return to an original practice.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Coupe (Cut). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 31,5 x 42,5 x 4,3 MEDIUM: Sliced statuette in bronze embedded in concrete.

No less significantly, the artist admits that a certain number of his “Coupes“ « are composed with great delicacy : it becomes aesthetic and the result has almost a lace aspect » ²⁶Arman, in D. Abadie, « L’archéologie… », op. cit., p. 61.. With these works, as without doubt with the “Colères“, the aesthetic demonstration can be doubled by the didactic intention. The arrangement of the cut elements - seen flat - can indeed stem from a desire to unveil the « inside of things » ²⁷ Arman, Mémoires…, op. cit., p. 91.. Arman explains on this point : « There is also a desire that is certainly a little archeological. I like to show the phases of something we do not know. The “Coupes“, with its technical side, ends up being as demonstrative as some engine cuts in universal exhibitions, some slices in geology or else. There is a desire to show something that we do not see, that we have not seen »²⁸Arman, in A. Jouffroy, « Arman », op. cit., p. 48..


This desire to show new forms is, if we believe the artist, a childhood reminiscence. This is what he says in 1998 : « My father - who was born in the nineteenth century - was a big fan of these gigantic exhibitions where everyone showed his products, his machine tools, his new cars…He loved that and took me to this kind of events, different from the Universal Exhibitions, because they were held in cities like Nice, Marseille or Lyon. What fascinated me the most in these shows were the cuts, because, very early, to show the mechanism and perfection of what they had created, the manufacturers showed a cut. I was fascinated by the revelation of what was inside. So much so that the day I did an exhibition with cut objects, I called it “L’intérieur des choses“ (The inside of things). It's a childhood memory that really impressed me a lot. All this technical aspect had delighted me. Afterwards, I applied it to elements that are not usually cut. But “L’intérieur des choses“ has revealed, regarding the cuts, more than interesting forms, really very significant ones » ²⁹ Arman, in D. Abadie, « L’archéologie… », op. cit., p. 61..

I was fascinated by what was inside...

Let’s add that at least on one occasion, the segmentation of objects will serve another purpose, this time a militant one. On June 4th, 1970, at the Reese Palley Gallery in New York, Arman makes the “Slicing“ operation in favor of the Black Panthers Defense Fund. Wishing to materialize the segregationist logic at work the United States and to denounce it, he confronts the principle of additive participation in his practice of cutting objects by committing to cut or saw for 100 dollars any object brought by the public, composed mainly of friends artists : crucifix, fresh egg, pot of paint, box ... « I cut everything that was brought to me ; there was no failure » ³⁰Ibid., p. 60., says the artist.

I cut everything that was brought to me; There was no failure...


For all the reasons that have been briefly mentioned here, the notion of « Acting out » or « Passage à l’acte » as defined by psychology can only exceptionally apply to Arman, for example for some developments of the third act of the 1975 performance “Conscious Vandalism“. But not without restriction. First, it is a largely premeditated action preceded by two acts. In Act I, Arman travels to Chinatown and Little Italy in New York City to purchase his installation accessories (furniture, clothing, records, beverages, appliances, rugs and paintings), and the tools that will be used to destroy it (mass and axe). In Act II, Arman sets up the show apartment with the help of his assistants, paying particular attention to detail, including the functionality of the bedside lamps and the television set. In the final act, the artist's state of « insane rage » is at least partly the result of circumstantial factors, namely the public looking and the accident. On this last point, Arman tells us indeed : « I got really angry in the apartment of Gibbson, because, in the end, I had hurt myself. It made me furious, and after that, I demolished everything in a rampage full of rage »¹Arman, dans D. Abadie, « L’archéologie… », op. cit., p. 61..
For Arman, according to his well-known statement, « action is a mega-work, it is the peak of a catharsis ». It is therefore very often an extension of the « colder » workshop practice. « Actions [...] are exclamation points in my work. They are always related to what I do », confirme l’artiste.²Arman, Mémoires…, op. cit., p. 187. And in most cases, the process of creating this « Logician of the Nouveau Réalisme »³P. Restany, « Arman et la logique formelle de l’objet », Arman, cat. exp., Bruxelles, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 1966, n. p. is largely a work of mentalization and execution that aims less at the destruction than at an artistic « deconstruction-reconstruction » of the object, as specified in 1963 by the creator of the play Banjo Solo : « this banjo marks a new period in the way of approaching destruction, or I would rather say the destructuring of the object »Arman, Letter to René Guiette, Düsseldorf, 1963, archives du Centre Georges Pompidou-Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Paris. Reprod. dans J.-M. Bouhours (dir.), Arman, op. cit., p. 309.
Broken mirror...
The pure gesture, the pure projection that refers to the allure-colère as a first mixing. (This is the same process as the pitcher of 1958. Here in 1962, always in the search for the control of the gesture, to improve by anticipation the trajectory of the accidents.
EDITION SIZE: Unique. TECHNIQUE: Colère (Rage). DIMENSIONS IN INCHES.: 58,3 x 44,9 MEDIUM: Imprint of smashed mirror on paper.
This process "with an infallible rigor »P. Restany, « Arman et la logique… », op. cit., n. p. is part of a methodological succession that is generally not compatible with the anger state. Let us quote the artist : « Very often, we act - I think that it is human, perhaps even animal, but it is especially human - and suddenly is superimposed, in spite of us, a part of unconscious. We want to do something, we want to go in one direction, but there will always be an unconscious correction [...]. There is first - before a series of works or a new idea – the intuition. I think it's common to all arts and all research. After intuition, there is the desire: that desire to see this thing incarnate, to do it. After the desire, there is the will to gather the necessary material forces. And, finally, there is the execution. And in the execution, one cannot have forgotten either intuition or desire. That's maybe what I call the unconscious »Arman, in D. Abadie, « L’archéologie… », op. cit., p. 61-62..
The execution phase, as we have already envisaged, is perhaps to be apprehended, at least partly, in an autonomous dimension. « I do not want to make beautiful, to make valuable I want and that's all »Arman, Letter to É. Radigue, stamped on 19 may 1958., assures Arman in a letter from 1958, which precedes this analysis of Restany : « Art cannot exist without crisis : the state of crisis is, par excellence, the most favorable to creation. The rest, the stability of opinions and tastes, intellectual “bonace”, nothing more harmful to the artist who caulk there. But to undertake a work at a time when the crisis of the mind has reverberated on all the facts of life, where the lack of a spiritual attitude is most violently felt by an ever increasing number of men, is a challenge. Arman responds to the crisis of the mind by a decision of the will. Without decision, there is no possible answer »P. Restany, « Arman », in Arman, cat. exp., Milan, Galerie Schwarz, 1963. Reprod. in J.-M. Bouhours (dir.), Arman, op. cit., p. 266..
The executing phase is the necessary step that satisfies the need for a conquering energetic expression that is difficult to dissociate from the artist, and whose origin remains difficult to identify among all the tracks launched here. This is undoubtedly the central argument of the astrological theme due to Éliane Radigue, inserted in the catalog of the exhibition Arman at the Schwarz Gallery in Milan in 1963 : « Immediate and fortuitous composition miraculously corresponding to the Astrological theme of the artist Arman (born) November 17, 1928. Nice. 15 hours. Scorpio, ascending ram. As we can see, the prime mover of Time is at the tip of Mars, the governing planet of the native theme. The planet Uranus which presides over the imaginative faculties of the subject coincides exactly with the table of temporal variations. (Which explains a lot of things). It is amusing to note that the Sun and Mercury planets responsible for the character's vital and intellectual capacity are at the point of fall of the signed piece. The most confused part of the personality of the native is in direct relation of place with the elements situated in Mid-Sky, elements overlapping also confusedly enough. The pentacle polygon located in Taurus, at the cusp of the first house, is obviously a guarantee of success and good fortune, enlightened by a well-contexted and powerful Jupiter »El’Hyane (Eliane Radigue) « Le temps éclaté », Arman, cat. exp. Galerie Schwartz, Milan. Reprod dans J-M Bouhours (dir.) « Arman », op.cit. In a letter sent to Arman in 1960, Eliane Radigue comments an astrological theme established this time by art dealer Iris Clert’s own astrologist. Among other things, she writes : « It’s obvious that the greed for power, for sex, for lie are recurrent and repetitive in several bad aspects of your theme but there’s too, at a lesser degree,  generosity, high reasoning that can moderate all that…Remains the astrological axiom of the stars and the planets which show for the individual concerned (by it)several possible directions from which to choose, that’s what you cal master your destiny while mastering yourself ». (E Radigue, letter to Arman, 1960)..
But the epilogue will rather be left to Pierre Restany - witness and sometimes target of this Armanian « vital and intellectual capacity » - who, at the very end of the 1960s, draws this portrait of Arman : « [...] the whole person constitutes a curious, rather exceptional mixture of physical strength and artistic propensities. The dominant character is a constantly renewed permanent dose of brute energy : a capital of physical and sensual dynamism that determines action in all areas. This need to act, to plunge into active “praxis“ probably explains the eclecticism of the character and of his tastes. Whether it is a behavior exploded in contrasting attitudes or conversely a gesture of expression developed logically, the dynamic impulse and energy expenditure are the same. Arman is the depository of a vital force whose irresistible triggering irreparably engages him through the smallest of his activities : he is there behind each of his gestures. This commitment power is not blind. It is coordinated, channeled by a primary moral sense, a very consciously felt phenomenon of existence in the world. This moral sense is reflected in the instinctive search for the economy of means. Very aware of the abundance of his energy capital, he is not always prodigal and knows how to spare time, resting stasis between periods of paroxysm. Such energy, accompanied however by instructions for use, and linked in its unleashing to a pragmatic and naturally efficient morality : this is the most striking overall dimension as soon as the character opens up to you, beyond first and superficial appearances »¹⁰P. Restany, « Arman » op. cit., p 1.
I do not want to make beautifull, to make valuable I want and that's all...