Hans Arp’s international breakthrough arrived after 1945. He took part in many groundbreaking exhibitions, including showing several works at the first documenta in Kassel. Faith in “abstraction as a world language” pushed avant-garde ideas into a broader context that would bring lasting change to the international art scene. Arp’s work fit perfectly with the spirit of the times, which sought a new beginning in modern art after the upheavals of World War II. As symbols of this universal aspiration, his biomorphic forms influenced generations of artists and designers.
In addition to major honors, such as the Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale and a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Arp also received prominent commissions for works in and around public buildings in the 1950s: For example, he designed massive reliefs for the Technische Universität Braunschweig and the UNESCO building in Paris, where his shapes danced across building facades. Bigness occupied him in his freestanding sculptures as well, which he had begun to realize on an ever larger scale.
Even into old age, Hans Arp never tired of reinventing himself and his art through experimentation with new techniques. With his “threshold sculptures,” he found a way to combine relief work with sculpture in the round. Alongside bronze, marble, and plaster, he also tried out new sculptural materials such as duralumin, brass, and glass. He was constantly bringing forth new forms in his works on paper as well. His Découpages, isolated biomorphic shapes that he cut out of paper or card stock, were a never-ending wealth of inspiration.
During these years, he wrote his poems in both German and French. Along with a translation of some of his works into English, he also published comprehensive anthologies such as Unsern täglichen Traum and Zweiklang. A collection of his writings in French, Jours effeuillés, appeared a few weeks after his death in 1966.