Jean (Hans) Arp, 1887-1966

De la Famille des Etoiles - From the Family of the Stars. 1965.


Original lithograph in colours. 1965. Signed in pencil. Inscribed in pencil as: ‘Épreuve d’Artiste’ Artist’s proof before the issued edition of 100. Drawn and editioned in the studio of Michel Cassé, Paris 1965. Edition issued by L’Oeuvre Gravée, 1965, and with their original label and reference number on the reverse. Also with the L’Oeuvre Gravée blindstamp in the lower sheet corner.

Ref: Arntz - Hans (Jean) Arp ‘The Graphic Work’ no 359.

Note: Arp created this image by first working in collage. The collaged cut-out shapes were then transferred by him to the litho stone in the Paris studio of the printer Cassé. The whole image was then further worked-on by Arp direct on the stone, using rubbing and ‘block-out’, to bring out the white inkless forms.

Excellent impression with perfect colours. On pale cream wove Rives paper. Full sheet. Sheet: 757 x 549mm. Image: 730 x 520mm.


‘De la Famille des Étoiles’ is one of the very finest of Arp’s works in the medium of colour lithography. Although he had been deeply involved in working in graphic media since the earliest period of his art in 1919-20 it was only in his last years that he worked in colour lithography. In 1950, whilst he and Sophie were living in Grasse surrounded by a group of artist friends – including Sonia Delaunay and Alberto Magnelli - , he first used lithography to create images some drawn in conjunction with the group.

Then in 1951, encouraged by the Guilde de la Gravure, an international association of artists interested in the art of the colour lithograph founded in 1949 and based in Geneva and Paris, he began to focus on lithography in colour. Over the last 15 years of his life it was in this medium that he drew his finest prints. One of the aspects of the medium which most appealed to him was the way in which cut-out forms, for example in a collage, could be transferred to lithography and then over-worked stone or the plate so as to combine clarity of form with even density of colour. ‘De la Famille des Étoiles’ is an outstanding large-scale example of this way of working.

Arp’s artistic inspiration and visual language developed out of the Dada movement in 1915-20 and through Surrealism. Dada was described by Marcel Duchamp at a later date as:’ a way of discarding a fixed mental attitude and ensuring that we were not influenced either by our immediate environment or by the past – it was a way of escaping cliché’. This focus on ‘non-reality’ is central to the beauty of Arp’s art.


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