Jean (Hans) Arp. Bell and Navels. 1931

Jean (Hans) Arp

Bell and Navels


Painted wood
10" (25.4 cm) high; 1 5/8" (4.2 cm) high x 19 3/8" (49.3 cm) diameter, including wood base
Kay Sage Tanguy Fund
Object number
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Painting and Sculpture
This work is not on view.
Jean (Hans) Arp has 60 works online.
There are 1,531 sculptures online.

The title of this sculpture identifies its two spherical shapes as navels and the larger, upturned form as a bell. The navel was one of Arp's signature motifs, as he considered its associations with birth, growth, and procreation to be particularly resonant. In his work it can resemble an egg, a seed, a womb, and as paired here, breasts—or the orb of the earth itself. As Arp explained, "It's the first thing that exists, the beginning." He connected human life not only with the cycles of nature, but also with the act of artistic creation. The year he made this work Arp declared, "Art is a fruit that grows in man like a fruit on a plant or a child in its mother's womb."

Gallery label from The Erotic Object: Surrealist Sculpture from the Collection, June 24, 2009–January 4, 2010

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
The artist, Meudon-Val-Fleury, Seine et Oise, France. 1931 – 1966
Jean Arp Estate / Marguerite Hagenbach Arp (Jean Arp’s widow), Clamart, France, and Locarno-Solduno, Switzerland . 1966 - 1968
Sidney Janis, New York. On consignment from Madame Arp, 1968
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired from Marguerite Arp through Janis, 1968

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