Jean Arp was born during the year of 1886, in the city of Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine region in the northeastern France. His mother was a native French woman and his father was of German origin, a mixed heritage which often brought young Arp in a situation of not being sure if his real name was Jean or Hans. This was eventually settled by the French law following the end of World War I when it was decided that the young man’s one and true name must be Jean.
Whilst still in his teen years, Arp went to Paris where he published his poetry for the first time in 1904, announcing his arrival to the creative scene of the City of Lights. For the next three years, he studied at the Kunstschule in Weimar, but yet again left for Paris in 1908. There, he studied at the famed Académie Julian. While still in the French capital, Arp was a founder and a member of the Moderne Bund in Lucerne, a group of young avant-garde artists who exhibited occasionally between the years of 1911 and 1913. Somewhere during that time, Jean met Wassily Kandinsky, the influential Russian painter and art theorist. Inspired by the views on art the Russian presented him with, Arp decided he would seek similar expression in his own work. Through his friendship with Kandinsky, Jean also met the likes of Henri Matisse and Robert Delaunay. In 1913, Jean was pressured by the rising tension between the Europe’s nations. Feeling that a war may occur at one point, scared Arp moved to Switzerland in order to take advantage of the Swiss neutrality. And as the chance would have it, Jean was proven to be right in 1914.