122 
friendship that developed between 
them was only ended with Kandin 
sky’s death in Paris in 1944. 
Of all the products of Arp’s crea 
tive activity, his engravings have 
been most seriously neglected in ap 
preciation. So freely do they accom 
pany the text of early Dada publica 
tions (his own books and those of 
fellow poets), 8 so strong is the visual 
structure which the engravings im 
part to the book as such, transcend 
ing the limits of mere typography 
— that the term “illumination” is 
once again adequate. These illumi 
nations clearly show how profoundly 
Kandinsky’s wood-engravings 9 stim 
ulated Arp, and to what extent he 
succeeded in transcribing them into 
a language completely his own. 
While Kandinsky’s early wood-en 
gravings are explosive, full of the 
spontaneity of flaming handwriting, 
those of Arp flow endlessly, despite 
their firm structural composition. 
The silent and lyrical nature of Arp 
stands out clearly from the dramatic 
passion of Kandinsky. To the 
rhythmical flow of lines Arp adds an 
interplay of essential forms, a strong 
proportioning of black-and-white 
masses. From now on he tends more 
and more towards what can perhaps 
be adequately described as struc 
tural growth, surely the most char 
acteristic quality in Arp’s art. 
Hugo Ball, his Dada days over, 
turned towards religion, opposed 
to a civilization’s commitment to 
8. Tristan Tzara, Richard Hülsenbeck, Ben 
jamin P£ret, etc. 
9. In “Über das Geistige in der Kunst” (1912; 
revised English translation, New York 1947), 
“Klänge” (1913). 
“progress,” wanting to foster instead 
a world more spiritual and mystical, 
as the romantic mind of Novalis had 
done before him. Arp, however, 
(who had moved to Paris-Meudon in 
1926, where he collaborated enthu 
siastically with the Surrealists for 
four years) turned from irony as his 
primary mode of expression to what 
he calls “concretions,” bold trans 
mutations of natural and of human 
growth into a plastic language of 
universal simplicity. While the “re 
liefs” of Arp’s earliest period are in 
fused with a weird atmosphere of 
the incidental and fragmentary, 
with the “shock” of new propor 
tions, the totally plastic works that 
ensued seem to belong immediately 
to nature itself. Their elementary 
plastic language is somehow per 
meated with the primary forces of 
growth, movement and change. Arp 
never resorts to a mere copying of 
nature; he acquired a mode of ex 
pression analogous to that of nature 
itself: “Art is a fruit that grows out 
of man like the fruit out of a plant 
or the child out of its mother. But 
whereas the fruit of a plant acquires 
completely independent forms and 
never resembles a balloon or a presi 
dent in a cutaway suit, the artistic 
fruit of man generally shows a ri 
diculous resemblance to the appear 
ance of other things. Reason tells 
man to stand above nature and to be 
the measure of all things. Reason 
has divorced man from nature. 
“Owing to reason, man has be 
come a tragic and hideous figure. 
“I love nature, but never nature’s 
surrogate.”
	        
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