Arman (November 17, 1928–October 22, 2005) was a French-born American artist. Born Armand, Pierre Fernandez in Nice, France, Arman is a painter who moved from using the objects as paintbrushes (“allures d’objet”) to using them as the painting itself. He is best known for his “accumulations” and destruction/recomposition of objects.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and mathematics in 1946, Arman began studying at the École Nationale des Arts Décoratifs in Nice. He also started judo at a police school in Nice where he met Yves Klein and Claude Pascal. At the time, he was signing with his first name as an homage to Van Gogh, who also signed his works with his first name, “Vincent.” And, thus, in 1957, Arman chose to change his name from Armand to Arman
From 1959 to 1962, Arman developed his most recognizable style, beginning with his two most renowned concepts: “Accumulation” and “Poubelle” (French for “trash bin”). Accumulations were collections of common and identical objects which he arranged in polyester castings or within Plexiglas cases. His first welded accumulations were created in 1962.
In October 1960, Arman, Yves Klein, François Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, Martial Raysse, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely and Jacques Villeglé, and art critic and philosopher Pierre Restany founded the Nouveau réalisme group. The group of young artists defined themselves as bearing in common their “new perspective approaches of reality.” They were reassessing the concept of art and the artist for a 20th-century consumer society by reasserting the humanistic ideals in the face of industrial expansion.
In 1961, Arman made his debut in the United States, the country which was to become his second home. During this period, he explored creation via destruction. The “Coupes” and the “Colères” featured sliced, burned, or smashed objects arranged on canvas, often using objects with a strong “identity” such as music instruments or bronze statues.
After Arman’s death in New York in 2005, part of his ashes were buried at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris in 2008.