Torso, Navel, Mustache-Flower

Jean Arp (French (born Germany), Strasbourg 1886–1966 Basel)

Oil on wood relief
31 1/2 x 39 3/8 x 1 1/2 in. (80 x 100 x 3.8 cm)
Credit Line:
The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection, Gift of Muriel Kallis Newman, 2006
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    By the time this work was made, Arp had perfected his assemblage technique, drawing designs on cardboard templates that were used by a carpenter to create the distinctive shapes. The forms in this work are called out precisely by Arp’s
    title. Navels, representing the beginning of life, are frequently employed by Arp, often appearing in amusing juxtapositions: navel hat, navel bottle, spoon navel, etc.; so too are mustaches, which Arp associated with the Prussian Kaiser Wilhelm and the Parisian barber Habig who created the style.

  • Provenance

    Sidney Janis Gallery, New York; Mr. and Mrs. Jay Z. Steinberg, Chicago, purchased from Janis, by 1953 - gift of Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006

  • Exhibition History

    5th Anniversary Exhibition, Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, September 29-October 31, 1953, exh cat, checklist no. 1 (as Grand Relief Rouge sur Gris, 1930, coll. Mr. and Mrs. Jay Z. Steinberg), ill. fig.1 (as Grand Relief Rouge sur Gris, 1930, wood relief, 32 x 40 in.).

    Arp, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 8 November 30, 1958, exh. cat. edited by James Thrall Soby, no. 50, pp. 52 (ill., as Torso, Navel, Head with Moustache, coll. Mrs. Albert H. Newman, Chicago), 122.

    Avant-Garde Chicago: Exhibit of Contemporary Art from Chicago Collectors, Bergman Gallery, Cobb Hall, University of Chicago, opened November 11, 1968, exh. cat. by Harold Rosenberg, n.p., checklist (as Arp, Grand Relief Rouge sur Gris Moustache Nombbie [sic] et Vase, wood relief, 39 ¼ x 31 ¾ in., coll. Mrs. Albert Newman).

    An American Choice: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 21-September 27, 1981, exh. cat. by William S. Lieberman, pp. 7 (intro by Lieberman), 30 (Lieberman), 31 (ill.), 153.

    Abstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 18, 2007 - February 3, 2008, exh. cat. edited by Gary Tinterow, Lisa Mintz Messinger, and Nan Rosenthal, no. 8, pp. 34 (ill.), 36 (essay by Sabine Rewald).

  • References

    Albert E. Elsen, Modern European Sculpture 1918-1945, Unknown Beings and Other Realities, Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y.; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, S.F., California (New York: George Braziller, with Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, 1979), text & ill. p. 106, and list of ills. p. 169 no. 106.

    Alice Hess, "Great Private Collections: A Chicago Visionary," Saturday Review, vol. 7, no. 14, October 1980, pp. 3, 72-75.

    Grace Glueck, "Met is Given a $12 Million Art Collection," New York Times, December 10, 1980, text p. 21.

    Anonymous, "Chicagoan Gives Art to N.Y. Museum," Chicago Sun-Times, December 11, 1980, text p. 8.

    Hilton Kramer, "Modernist Show Moves Met Firmly into Art of 20th Century," New York Times, May 22, 1981, text p. C21.

    Bernd Rau, ed., with introduction by Michel Seuphor, Hans Arp, Die Reliefs Oeuvre-Katalog (Stuttgart: Gerd Hatje, 1981), p. 102 no. 207. Also English language edition: Bernd Rau, Jean Arp: The Reliefs. Catalogue of Complete Works (Stuttgart: Gerd Hatje, 1981, & New York: Rizzoli, 1981), ill. p. 102 no. 207.

    "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 2005-2006," The Metropolitan Museum of Art Buletin, n.s., vol. 64, no. 2 (Fall 2006), p. 61 (entry by Sabine Rewald).

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History