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Le Fils du Nombril (The Son of the Navel)

Jean (Hans) Arp (German, worked in France and Switzerland, 1886–1966)


Overall: 141 x 62.2 cm (55 1/2 x 24 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Relief and oil on board

Not On View


Contemporary Art, Europe



Arp was one of the founders of the Dada movement in the early 20th century, and was also part of the Surrealist and Constructivist movements. He considered his reliefs to be “constructed paintings” and believed that all his works were works in progress. Le Fils du Nombril originated as a drawing in 1922 and was presented in relief in 1957, illustrating Arp’s characteristic reworking of many of the same themes and motifs across time in new ways. Its buoyant quality is typical of Arp’s biomorphic works; as in his other reliefs of this period, he employed contrasting colors and a suggestion of collage to present forms that seem vaguely human yet clearly abstract.


Sold by the artist to the Sidney Janis Gallery, New York (stock no. 8814); 1961, sold by Janis to Richard and Sally Leahy, Chestnut Hill, MA; 2011, gift of Richard and Sally Leahy to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 22, 2011)

Credit Line

Gift of Richard and Sally Leahy


© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.