Arman slicing a dollar bill on at Reeese Palley Gallery, 1970. Photo by Harry Shunk and Janos Kender, Copyright J. Paul Getty Trust

This work was created at a performance held at Reese Palley Gallery, New York where the artist sliced various objects in support of the Black Panthers' defense fund. Photographers Harry Shunk and Janos Kender documented the event, capturing Arman as he sawed and sliced  posters, paint cans, dollar bills and even a crucifix. The owner of this work recalls feeling cathartic as Arman sliced her phone bill directly in half. A protest against capitalism on a smaller scale, proceeds of the event funded the legal counsel for twenty-one members of the Black Panther Party who charged with conspiracy to murder by blowing up a number of department stores in New York.

Posters, pamphlets and a donation box at Reese Palley Gallery, 1970. Photo by Harry Shunk and Janos Kender, Copyright J. Paul Getty Trust

Arman 1928–2005

Born in 1928 in Nice, France, Armand Pierre Fernandez was one of the most prolific and innovative artists working in the French Pop Art movement. Arman began his formal training at the Ecole Nationale des Arts Décoratif in Nice in 1946, but then moved to Paris study at the Ecole du Louvre. In 1947, he forged a friendship with fellow artist Yves Klein, and the two soon began to create art that responded to the post-war condition. Arman’s art dealt with the Duchampian notion of the ready-made, as he employed commodity objects to question the ideas of exuberant mass-production. In 1960, he joined Klein to found the French artistic group Nouveau Réalisme, which sought to find “new ways of looking at the real.”

In 1961, Arman moved to New York, where he took up residence in the infamous Chelsea Hotel. Arman felt that in coming to New York, he was “in the center of [his] dreams, vitrines of vitrines, a profusion of windowed crystals on the rock of Manhattan.” He became friends with fellow Pop Artist Andy Warhol, who began to collect Arman’s work and in 1964, Arman was featured in Warhol’s film Dinner at Daley's. Arman was granted American citizenship in 1972. In 1982, he constructed his formative sculpture Long Term Parking, which consisted of an obelisk-like pile of cars encased in concrete. In 1991, the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York honored Arman with the first U.S. retrospective of his works. Arman died in 2005, but he left behind a legacy of art that played with the conventions of consumer commodities. His works are housed in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Tate Museum in London, among many others.

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