Arp is best known for his multilayered, painted wood reliefs, of which Torso, Navel, Mustache-Flower is an example. By the time Arp created this work, he had already perfected his assemblage technique: he drew designs on cardboard templates and had a carpenter execute them in wood. The title of this relief identifies the curvilinear and irregular biomorphic forms as a torso, navel, and mustache-flower. Arp associated the mustache form with specific individuals, such as the Prussian Kaiser Wilhelm II, and the navel form with the beginning of life.
[Sidney Janis Gallery, New York; sold to Steinberg]; Muriel Kallis Steinberg, Chicago (by 1953–2006; her gift to MMA)
New York. Sidney Janis Gallery. "5th Anniversary Exhibition," September 29–October 31, 1953, no. 1.
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Arp," October 8–November 30, 1958, no. 50.
University of Chicago, Bergman Gallery. "Avant-Garde Chicago: Exhibit of Contemporary Art from Chicago Collectors," opened November 11, 1968, unnumbered cat.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "An American Choice: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection," May 21–September 27, 1981, unnumbered cat. (p. 31).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Abstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 17, 2007–February 3, 2008, extended to March 2, 2008, no. 8.
Washington, D.C. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. "Marvelous Objects: Surrealist Sculpture from Paris to New York," October 29, 2015–February 15, 2016, unnumbered cat. (fig. 59).
Albert E. Elsen. Modern European Sculpture, 1918-1945: Unknown Beings and Other Realities. Exh. cat., Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. New York, 1979, pp. 106, 109, ill.
Alice Hess. "Great Private Collections: A Chicago Visionary." Saturday Review 7 (October 1980), pp. 72, 74, ill. pp. 3, 73.
Grace Glueck. "Met Is Given a $12 Million Art Collection." New York Times (December 10, 1980), p. B7.
"Chicagoan Gives Art to N. Y. Museum." Chicago Sun-Times (December 11, 1980), p. 8.
Hilton Kramer. "Modernist Show Moves Met Firmly into Art of 20th Century." New York Times (May 22, 1981), p. C21.
Bernd Rau, ed. Jean Arp, the Reliefs: Catalogue of Complete Works. New York, 1981, p. 102, no. 207, ill.
Sabine Rewald in "Recent Acquisitions. A Selection: 2005–2006." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 64 (Fall 2006), p. 58, ill.
Sabine Rewald inAbstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Gary Tinterow, Lisa Mintz Messinger, and Nan Rosenthal. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 34–36, no. 8, ill. (color).
Valerie Fletcher. Marvelous Objects: Surrealist Sculpture from Paris to New York. Exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. Washington, D.C., 2015, pp. 61, 183, fig. 59 (color).