|African Faces, African Figures: The Arman Collection
My dialogue with African art derives from the conviction that artistic creation arises from a common fund of
humanity and that in the discovery of aesthetic solutions the making of masterpieces supersedes regions,
cultures, and becomes part of the treasures from all places and all times of human creation.
African Faces, African Figures: The Arman Collection is an extraordinary collection of more than 180 visually
provocative objects from diverse regions of Africa. These objects were gathered over the past 40 years by world
renowned French painter and sculptor Armand P. Arman, an artist who came to prominence during the 1960s as
part of the Paris-based Nouveau Realisme, or New Realism, movement and his American wife Corice Canton.
Though previously shown only in parts at national and international locations, this exhibition gathers these rare
and beautiful African objects together for the first time.
While the Armans never attempted to create a comprehensive overview of sub-Saharan African art, they put
together a collection of the highest quality African objects from diverse regions and cultures. Objects in the
exhibition include Mende helmet masks (Sierra Leone and Liberia); Fang and Kota reliquary figures (Gabon); and
Kongo power figures (People's Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola). African Faces,
African Figures presents a variety of objects produced in Africa, along with descriptive text about the aesthetics
and anthropology of each group by authors including Helene Joubert, Anne Marie Bouttiaux-Ndiave, Christopher
Roy, Louis Perrois, Alain Nicolas, Gustaaf Verswijver, Luc de Heusch, Els DC Palmenaer, and Jacques Lombard.
Organized by the Musee d'Arts Africains,
Oceaniens, Amerindiens ol Marseille (France), African Faces, African Figures is accompanied by this full-color
catalogue with articles by Alain Nicolas, the Director of the Musee d'Arts Africains, Oceaniens, Amerindiens;
Jean-Hubert Martin; and Jacques Kerchachc, along with two extensive interviews with Arman conducted by
Monique Barbier-Mueller and Alain Nicolas. The catalogue is richly illustrated and provides extensive descriptions
of the objects and the peoples that produced them, including historical, religious, and geographic information.
Photographs: Gerard Bonnet
|The Mende Collection
|The Mende have lived in Liberia, Sierra Leone and on the Guinea coast since the sixteenth or seventeenth century.
Arriving from the east, they speak a language of Mende root. Settling there, they came between the Sherbro and
Kissi peoples. Mende society Junctions within the framework of a monarchy with exclusively political power. Other
powers, notably including the allocation cf land, are held by the elders of the different lineages.
They are cultivators of rice, cacao, palm oil, peanuts, yams, etc.
The Mende believe in a creator-god, Ngewo, the representation of whose image is prohibited. Religious life is
directed by the societies or associations. The men's poro society (women are only exceptionally admitted), that one
finds throughout this region, is the best known and responsible for the initiations. The principal women's society is
Mende artists work in wood: the bundu masks and the female figures are connected to rites of divination and
healing. Other Mende masks, in leather and fur, and belonging to the poro, have been noted.
|The sowei helmet masks described here, according to Marie-Louise Bastin belong to the women's bundu society,
sometimes also called sande. Sculpted by men, they are worn by female dancers who have attained a certain rank
in die society. They appear during ceremonies involving the young girls who have undergone three months of
seclusion in the forest. The costume that goes with the mask must hide the body completely. These masks
represent the spirits of fecundity.
The masks here, all of the same type, are differentiated by their individual coiffures.
|Click on any image set to see high resolution picture
|Interview - Arman Armand
New York, December 2nd, 1995
by Alain Nicolas
From the book on Arman's collection: African Faces, African Figures
|Amateur, Accumulator,Collector, Connoisseur
by Jacques Kerchache
CLICK HERE to go to the brief article by Jacques Kerchache on his friendship and experiences with Arman.
|Arman, in 1985, before his "L'Heure de Tous" (Time for All) in front of the Saint-Lazare train station in Paris.
|Arman, 76, Found-Object Sculptor, Dies
By KEN JOHNSON
Published: October 24, 2005 - NY Times
Arman, the French sculptor known internationally for his surprising accumulations of trash and found objects,
died Saturday at his home in New York. He was 76.
The cause was cancer, said his wife, Corice Canton Arman.
A founding member of the Nouveau Réalistes, a group that included Yves Klein, Daniel Spoerri and Jean
Tinguely, Arman made his mark in the 1960's. For a famous exhibition in 1960 at the Iris Clert Gallery in Paris he
responded to Klein's exhibition "La Vide" ("The Void"), which consisted of an entirely empty gallery, by filling the
gallery floor to ceiling with rubbish and calling it "Le Plein" ("Full Up").
Arman went on to create accumulations of all kinds of objects, from partly squeezed-out paint tubes immersed in
cast plastic to a 106-foot-high stack of military vehicles embedded in concrete, in Beirut; called "Hope for Peace,"
that 1995 work was commissioned by the government of Lebanon. He made sculptures out of everything from
buttons to typewriters, musical instruments, car parts and bicycles, and he manipulated them in all sorts of ways -
sometimes violently, as in works that involved dissection, burning and exploding, and sometimes by creating
elegantly patterned arrangements.
Like the found-object works of Marcel Duchamp, those of Arman challenge conventional notions about the nature
of art. And like the serialized Pop Art works of Andy Warhol, they reflect anxieties about social issues like
consumerism, waste and individuality in a society of mass production.
Arman was also an avid collector of art and antiques, from knives to jukeboxes. His collections of Japanese arms
and armor and of African art have been exhibited in museums around the world.
Armand Pierre Fernandez was born on Nov. 17, 1928, in Nice in the south of France. (A printer's error prompted
him to drop the d from his name in 1958.) His father, an antiques dealer, was an amateur painter and musician,
and Arman began painting as a child. After earning a baccalaureate in philosophy and mathematics in 1946 he
began to study painting at the École Nationale d'Art Décoratif in Nice, where he met Klein. Later he studied
archaeology and Asian art at the École du Louvre.
Arman made Surrealistic paintings in the 40's and moved on to abstraction in the 50's. An exhibition of works by
Kurt Schwitters inspired his lifelong interest in assemblage, and he began to produce his accumulations of trash
and found objects in the late 50's.
In 1951 Arman became a teacher at the Bushido Kai Judo School in Madrid, and in the early 50's he served for
two years as a medical orderly in the French army in Vietnam.
Arman had his first solo exhibitions in London and Paris in 1956, and he was later included in many important
international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale and Documenta 4 in Kassel, Germany. He represented
France in Expo '67, the world's fair in Montreal. He had his first solo show in New York at Cordier Ekstrom Gallery
in 1961, and in 1964, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis organized his first American museum retrospective. In
2001, the Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain in Nice mounted a retrospective.
Arman received United States citizenship in 1973, keeping his French citizenship. Since 1975 he had maintained
homes and studios in New York and in Vence, France.
His first marriage, to Eliane Radigue, ended in divorce.
Arman is survived by his wife; his children from his first marriage, Francoise Moreau of Paris and Anne Lamb of
Montpellier, France; his children from his second marriage, Yasmine Arman and Phillippe Arman, both of New
York; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. His son Yves died in 1989.
|Rand African Art