Jean (Hans) Arp Bell and Navels 1931

  • Not on view

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.
Painted wood
Overall 11 5/8" (25.4 cm) high x 19 3/8" (49.3 cm) diameter, including wood base
Kay Sage Tanguy Fund
Object number
© 2024 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

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Provenance Research Project

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.

1931 - 1966, Jean (Hans) Arp, Meudon-Val-Fleury, Seine et Oise, France.
1966 - 1968, Estate of Jean Arp (Marguerite Hagenbach Arp), Clamart, France, and Locarno-Solduno, Switzerland.
1968, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, purchased from Marguerite Hagenbach Arp through Sidney Janis Gallery, New York.

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