Arman, 76, Tribeca artist whose medium was garbage


Arman, the sculptor internationally famous for combining found objects and all kinds of junk and who had a home and studio in Tribeca and an outdoor metal studio on Canal Street for 27 years, died at home Sat. Oct. 22 at the age of 76.

The cause was cancer, according to his wife, Corice Canton Arman.

Born in Nice on the French Mediterranean coast, to Antonio Francisco Fernandez, an antiques dealer and amateur painter, and Marie Jacquet Fernandez, he learned the basics of painting from his father.

In a profile in The Villager in 2003 he said that he sold two landscapes a month as a youngster. He then went to Paris where he studied art and met artists, including Matisse and Picasso and the Americans Larry Rivers, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.

An abstract painter until 1954, he became a member of the Nouveau Realistes group that included Yves Klein, Daniel Spoerri and Jean Tinguely, with whom he had his first show in 1960

At the group’s 1960 show in Paris, Klein showed a work called “La Vide” (“The Void”), consisting of a completely empty room, while Arman showed “Le Plien” (“Filled Up”), a gallery crammed from floor to ceiling with trash.

He first came to New York in 1961, met Marcel Duchamp, the 1920s Dada pioneer, and played chess with him and other art pioneers, including Man Ray and Max Ernst. Late in life he returned to painting and had a show of recent works at the Marlborough Gallery in early 2003.

In the past year, he joined a development partner, Red Brick Canal, to redevelop his outdoor studio on Canal and Greenwich Streets. The team is seeking a Board of Standard and Appeals variance that would allow redevelopment taller and denser than current zoning in the Hudson Square area allows. Most neighbors, however, are apposed to the variance. The B.S.A. has yet to rule on the variance but Deirdre Carlson, the land use attorney for the enterprise, said Red Brick still intends to build on the lot.

Arman, whose name at birth was Armand Pierre Fernandez, assumed his working name after a printer mistakenly left the “D” off Armand. He became a U.S. citizen in 1973, retained French citizenship and maintained homes in Tribeca and in Vence, France.

His wife, Corice Canton Arman, their children, Yasmin, Arman and Phillippe Arman, of New York, survive. Also surviving are his ex-wife, Eliane Radigue, and their daughters, Francoise Moreau and Anne Lamb, of France.