Born in Nice in 1928, Armand Pierre Fernandez, commonly known as Arman, entered the Nice Decorative Arts School in 1946, where he met Yves Klein and Claude Pascal. The three become fraternal friends and begin to experience exhilarating moments together: they set off on a hitchhiking trip across Europe, during which Arman begins to delve into philosophy, Buddhism and astrology. He moves to Paris, where he studies at the Ecole du Louvre, department of oriental art and archaeology. From 1959 he began working on the Accumulations (accumulations of everyday objects, all identical and generally already used) and on the Poubelles (waste, detritus, various scraps piled up in a transparent container). He exhibited for the first time in Italy at the Apollinaire gallery in Milan.
After meeting Pierre Restany and Cesar, he gives rise to the creation of the movement called Nouveau Réalisme, together with Yves Klein, Raymond Hains, Jacques Villeglé, Jean Tinguely and François Dufrêne, soon joined by Martial Raysse, Niki de St. Phalle, Christo, César, Gérard Deschamps, Daniel Spoerri. Over time, Arman focuses his art on the physical object up to his own accumulation of the same: thus, he realizes accumulation of real objects or society’s waste.In 1961 he exhibited for the first time in New York at the Cordier – Warren Gallery. The Coupes (objects cut or sawn) and the Colères (objects broken or violently damaged) are presented, also participating in The Art of Assemblage at the MoMA of New York.
Starting in 1961 he dedicated himself to the decomposition of subjects using the découpage technique, furthermore, he deepened his research on many bronzes, which led to the creation of the Combustions in 1963. In the same year his first retrospective was held at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis it then moves on to the Stedelijk Meseum in Amsterdam.
Polyester, which he has used as glue since 1961, enters the scene with Inclusions (accumulations of objects immersed in transparent polyester resin).His one-man shows are held at the Haus Lange Museum in Krefeld, then in Chicago, Lausanne, Venice, and Paris.In 1968 he participated in the Venice Biennale and in Documenta, Kassel, and obtained a professorship at the California University of Los Angeles.
In the 1970s, his experimental research moved him towards the inclusion of classic materials in concrete platforms, technically defining Beton. He exhibits in the French pavilion at the Universal Exposition in Osaka, in the museums of Helsinki, Ludwigshafen, Stockholm, and Zurich, and celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Nouveau Réalisme in Milan.
In 1972 he obtained American citizenship and the musical instruments he needed to create new works, Coupe Dans le Beton (violin and case cut and embedded in concrete) and Colères Dans le bèton, Les désenchantès (broken violins embedded in concrete).In 1974 a traveling retrospective was held in the United States, beginning at the Jolla Museum in Los Angeles and ending in New York. In 1976 he was invited to the Venice Biennale.
Numerous solo exhibitions date back to the early 1980s in Monaco, Geneva, Caracas, Florence, Paris, Osaka, Tokyo, Nice, Stuttgart Darmstadt. In 1986 retrospective exhibitions are held at Pavillon Web in Zurich and at the Urlich Museum in Wichita, Kansas, as well as an exhibition at the Fuji Television Gallery in Tokyo, while working on the Slices of Liberty project for the centennial of the Statue of Liberty.The following year he dedicated himself to various public monuments: Cavalleria Eroica in Montecarlo, Ascend to the Blues in Memphis, Tennessee, Le Jardin des Délices in Grasse, Persepolis in Dallas, Texas, The Fourth of July in Connecticut.In 1988 he continues the creation of monumental sculptures: the Vénus des Arts in the heart of Saint Germain de Près in Paris, Dionysos discovered for the Portman Company in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Turbeau fountain, at the Notre Dame des Fleurs castle, Vence. In 1990 he began working on a new series of sculptures entitled Atlantis.In 1991 he took part in the first Lyon biennial introducing the theme of bicycles. In 1999 Arman paid homage to Ferrari: The Rampante is a sculpture made up of cut and superimposed red bronze racing cars, located in Imola, in front of the motor racing circuit.
In 2001 the great retrospective was held at the MAMAC in Nice. On October 22, 2005, Arman died in New York. In 2006, the retrospective dedicated to his first period, entitled Subida al Cielo, took place at the MAMAC in Nice. In 2007 some of the master’s works were presented on the occasion of Le Nouveau Realisme, the most important exhibition dedicated to the homonymous movement.