Born in Nice in 1928, Armand Pierre Fernandez showed a precocious talent for painting and drawing as a child.
After studies at the Ecole Nationale des Arts Décoratifs in Nice, Arman decamped to Paris to study art history at the Ecole du Louvre. His work in these early years focused on abstract paintings inspired by the work of Nicolas de Staël.
An avid reader, Arman sought inspiration through books and art reviews, as well as during frequent road trips throughout Europe with his artist friends from Nice, Claude Pascale and Yves Klein.
Inspired by the Dadaist collages of Kurt Schwitters, Arman’s first solo show, in Paris in 1954, exhibited his “Cachets,” assemblages and accumulations of stamps and fabric that were to prove an important step in the development of his artistic vision. More consequential yet was his signing, in 1960, of the manifesto of the “Nouveau Réalisme” (New Realism) movement, with fellow artists Klein, Martial Raysse and Jean Tinguely, among others. “New Realism equals new, sensitive, perceptive approaches to the real,” asserted the document, and Arman set out on a new course, in which he would re-examine the artistic possibilities of everyday objects, elevating the banal to the aesthetic, and refuse into art.
Enamored by the artistic energy of New York in the ’60s, Arman moved into the Chelsea Hotel in 1967, and became an American citizen (adopting the official name of Armand P. Arman) in 1973. As he established himself in New York, his projects became ever more ambitious and prolific, and featured accumulations of tools, clocks, jewelry and countless other materials.
Though Arman passed away in October 2005, the efforts of his wife of 34 years, Corice Canton Arman, and of the Arman P. Arman Trust, continue to ensure that his remarkable legacy—his ability to transform and elevate, his political engagement and his incisive humanism—will continue to affect and influence the world he loved so much.