Hans Arp quotes:

  • Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation.

  • Artists should work together like the artists of the Middle Ages.

  • Zurich in 1915,... While the thunder of the batteries rumbled in the distance, we pasted, we recited, we versified, we sang with all our soul. We searched for an elementary art that would, we thought, save mankind from the madness of these times.

  • Each one of these bodies (art-works Arp made) certainly signifies something, but it is only once there is nothing left for me to change that I begin to look for its meaning, that I give it a name.

  • Art is a fruit that grows in man, like a fruit on a plant, or a child in its mother's womb.

  • Already in 1915, Sophie Tauber divides the surface of her aquarelle into squares and rectangles which she then juxtaposes horizontally and perpendicularly as Mondrian, Itten and Paul Klee did in the same period, fh). She constructs them as if they were masonry work. The colors are luminous, ranging from the raw yellow to deep red or blue.

  • It was Sophie ( Sophie Arp Tauber, woman artist and later Arp's wife) who, by the example of her work and her life, both of them bathed in clarity, showed me the right way. In her world, the high and the low, the light and the dark, the eternal and the ephemeral, are balanced in prefect equilibrium.

  • the streams buck like rams in a tent / whips crack and from the hills come the crookedly combed /shadows of the shepherds. /black eggs and fools' bells fall from the trees. / thunder drums and kettledrums beat upon the ears of the donkeys. / wings brush against flowers. / fountains spring up in the eyes of the wild boar.

  • The vertical and the horizontal are the extreme signs available to man for touching the beyond and his inwardness.

  • In the good times of Dada, we detested polished works, the distracted air of spiritual struggle, the titans, and we rejected them with all out being.

  • Tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his [mankind's] ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.

  • I did exhibitions with the Surrealists (in Paris, in 1929) because their attitude revolted against 'art' and their attitude toward life itself was wise, as was Dada's.

  • Since the time of the cavemen, man has glorified himself, has made himself divine, and his monstrous vanity has caused human catastrophe. Art has collaborated in this false development. I find this concept of art which has sustained man's vanity to be loathsome.

  • I like nature but not its substitutes... Mondrian opposed art to nature saying that art is artificial and nature is natural. I do not share this opinion... Art's origins are natural.

  • I use very little red. I use blue, yellow, a little green, but especially... black, white and grey. There is a certain need in me for communication with human beings. Black and white is writing.

  • In recent times, Surrealist painters have used descriptive illusionistic academic methods.

  • Often the hands grasp more quickly than the head.

  • The essence of a sculpture must enter on tip-toe, as light as animal footprints on snow.

  • The man who speaks and writes about art should refrain from censuring or pontificating. He will thus avoid doing anything foolish, for in the presence of primordial depth all art is but dream and nature.

  • In 1915 Sophie Tauber and I carried out our first works in the simplest forms, using painting, embroidery and pasted paper (without using oil colors to avoid any reference with usual painting). These were probably the first manifestations of their kind, pictures that were their own reality, without meaning or cerebral intention. We rejected everything in the nature of a copy or a description, in order to give free flow to what was elemental and spontaneous.

  • A painting or sculpture not modelled on any real object is every bit as concrete and sensuous as a leaf or a stone... but it is an incomplete art which privileges the intellect to the detriment of the senses.

  • All things, and man as well, should be like nature, without measure.

  • Any work that is not rooted in myth and poetry or that does not partake of the depth and essence of the universe is merely a ghost.

  • Dada aimed to destroy the reasonable deceptions of man and recover the natural and unreasonable order.

  • DaDa is beautiful like the night, who cradles the young day in her arms.

  • Dada was given the Venus of Milo a clyster and has allowed the Laocoön and his sons to rest awhile, after thousands of years of struggle with the good sausage Python. The philosophers are of less use to Dada than an old toothbrush, and it leaves them on the scrap heap for the great leaders of the world.

  • Ever since my childhood, I was haunted by the search for perfection. An imperfectly cut paper literally made me ill. I would guillotine it.

  • I allow myself to be guided by the work which is in the process of being born. I have confidence in it. I do not think about it.

  • The important thing about Dada, it seems to me, is that Dadaists despised what is commonly regarded as art, but put the whole universe on the lofty throne of art.

  • To be full of joy when looking at an oeuvre is not a little thing.

  • We attempted perfection; we wanted an object to be without flaw, so we cut the papers with a razor, pasted them down meticulously, but it buckled and was ruined... that is why we decided to tear prewrinkled paper, so that in the finished work of art imperfection would be an integral part, as if at birth death were built in.

  • We do not wish to imitate nature, we do not wish to reproduce. We want to produce. We want to produce the way a plant produces its fruit, not depict. We want to produce directly, not indirectly. Since there is not a trace of abstraction in this art we call it concrete art.

  • While guns rumbled in the distance, we sang, painted, made collages and wrote poems with all our might. We were seeking an art based on fundamentals, to cure the madness of the age, and find a new order of things that would restore the balance between heaven and hell.

  • Wij wezen allles wat kopie of beschrijving was af en lieten het elementaire en het spontane in volle vrijheid reageren. Omdat de plaatsing van de vlakken en de kleuren en de verhoudingen van deze vlakken louter op toeval schenen te berusten, verklaarde ik dat deze werken, zoals in de natuur, gerangschikt waren "volgens de wetten van het toeval", toeval dat voor mij alleen maar een beperkt onderdeel vormde van een onpeilbare reden van bestaan, van een orde die in zijn totaliteit ontoegankelijk was.

  • As the thought comes to me to exorcise and transform this black with a white drawing, it has already become a surface.. .Now I have lost all fear, and begin to draw on the black surface.