Pierre Fernandez Arman
Nanjing Lu, 1200 block
Arman’s Cavalleria Eroica features the nouveau réaliste’s trademark reconstruction of traditional sculpture. But the pseudo-Futurist piece from 1987 seems fairly dated. That said, this is one of the better pieces dotting Nanjing Lu.Get there: Take Metro Line 2 Nanjing Xi Lu station and walk to the 1200 block Nanjing Lu, outside the Shanghai Exhibition Center.
Armand Pierre Fernandez was born in Nice and lived in the French Meditterranean coast until 1947, when he travelled in Europe with Yves Klein and Claude Pascal. Both artists were to have a long and lasting influence and friendship with Arman: Klein was his son's godfather and with Pascal he co-founded the Nouveau Realisme movement. Between 1947-1953 concentrated on Zen Buddhism and astrology. In Paris he studied at the École de Louvre and École Nationale des Art Decoratifs, where during an exhibition in 1954 he discovered the work of Kurt Schwitters, which led him to reject the lyrical abstraction of the period. Arman's willingness to embrace chance was indicated by his decision in 1958 to change his name in accordance with a printing error. By the late 1950s he had moved away from traditional painting and sculpture in favour of the object and specifically of the ready-made, piling up identical salvaged things, modifying their meaning by repetition and giving the construction an ironic title. In response to Yves Klein's installation of an empty room, Arman exhibited Fullness, a gigantic accumulation of refuse that filled the same space from floor to ceiling, being an important example of Environmental Art. He soon widened his vocabulary by choosing both to cut the objects into thin strips, revealing their internal structure. The objects used by Arman were extremely diverse, but they were always familiar things collected in considerable quantities. Among those he favoured were coffee grinders, painters' paraphernalia, and musical instruments. From the mid-1960s Arman made numerous visits to New York, and took American citizenship in 1972. He was awarded numerous prizes and awards.