Close this search box.

The Element of Chance: Exploring Hans Arp’s Creative Process

The Element of Chance: Exploring Hans Arp's Creative Process

Let’s dive into the fascinating world of Hans Arp, a remarkable artist from the 20th century who was all about breaking the rules, embracing the element of chance, and giving traditional art the cold shoulder.

Meet Hans Arp

Born in 1886 in Strasbourg, Hans Arp, also known as Jean Arp, was a true artistic genius skilled in sculpture, painting, and poetry. He was a key player in the Dada movement, a rebellious art movement that shook things up during World War I. Dada artists like Arp rejected the ordinary and welcomed randomness, the element of chance, and spontaneity as key ingredients in their art.

The Influence Daoist Philosophy

Arp was influenced by Taoism and Daoist philosophy. These ideas encouraged going with the flow and finding harmony in opposites. Arp thought artists should be like messengers for nature, letting go of control and allowing chance to guide their creative process. This way, he felt more liberated and free as an artist.

A Unique Collaboration

Arp teamed up with Hans Richter, an artist and filmmaker, to create what they called “Anti Art.” This meant they threw out the rulebook of traditional art. They believed art should be unpredictable and not tied down by set rules or meanings. By doing this, they used chance to challenge what people expected from art.

Chance in His Artwork

For Arp, chance was a big deal. He thought that by giving up control and letting random elements shape his art, he could tap into the heart of true creativity. He often used techniques like collage, where he’d stick different things together in a free and spontaneous way. By going with the flow and embracing chance, Arp created art that was full of surprises and open to different interpretations.

Spontaneity, Randomness, and the Element of Chance

Arp loved spontaneity and randomness in his art. He believed they helped him be a more genuine and authentic artist. He didn’t start with a plan, and he let his gut feeling and the materials he used guide him. This approach led to unexpected connections and a deep sense of creative freedom. His art was both visually striking and deeply meaningful.

Specific Artworks That Showcased Chance

One of Arp’s famous works that shouts “chance” is “Collage with Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance.” For this piece, Arp cut out squares of colored paper and let them fall where they may on a larger sheet. The result was a lively and balanced composition with no set order. Another example is his sculpture “Configuration with Two Ovoids,” where he put different shapes together in what might seem like a random way, creating an abstract and intriguing form. These pieces are proof of how chance played a big role in his creative process.

Impact on Art

Arp’s focus on chance and spontaneity left a lasting mark on the art world. His ideas influenced art movements like Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism, where artists dug into their subconscious and welcomed the unexpected. Even today, artists are inspired by his love for chance in their own creative journeys.

Try It Yourself

If you’re an artist or just curious, you can give chance a whirl in your own work. Let go of control, embrace spontaneity, and see where it takes you. You can try techniques like collage, assemblage, or even just making random marks. Be open to surprises and celebrate the beauty of the unexpected. Who knows what you’ll discover!

Let us know what you discover and which technique you use that best captures the element of chance.

Learn More

If you’re curious about Hans Arp and want to see more of his work, check out these museums and galleries:

Guggenheim Museum:

The Museum of Modern Art:

The Tate Gallery:

Additionally, numerous books and articles delve into Arp’s artistic process and philosophy.

This article has more detail about his life:


Hans Arp’s way of creating art, full of chance and spontaneity, offers a unique perspective on the creative process. By letting go of control and welcoming randomness, he opened up new possibilities for art. His influence on the art world is still felt today, inspiring artists to push the boundaries and embrace the element of chance.

So, why not give chance a go in your next creative project? Release control and let spontaneity guide you – you might be pleasantly surprised by what you create. Enjoy the journey!

mannequin standing next to a white frame with the 3 rules to break inside the frame
Click on the image to get your free download of this infographic!

This infographic is a good reminder that kids, especially reluctant drawers, are in a special place that requires nurturing from their art teachers to cultivate confidence and a love of drawing. This is the perfect time to celebrate their ideas more than their technique and reward their efforts more than their finished product.

You can read more about 3 Rules to Break to Encourage Reluctant Drawers in this blog post.

Let’s Connect!

Join my email list to hear about new resources, sales, and tips for teaching art and drawing, and get 15% off your next order!

join us in the art teacher drawing hub facebook group

Continue the conversation in my FB group of art teachers:

The Art Teacher Drawing Hub.

Don’t forget to pin this!

The Element of Chance: Exploring Hans Arp's Creative Process
Picture of Stacey Peters

Stacey Peters

I create engaging drawing resources that help students build confidence and express themselves through art. I'm a former elementary art teacher of 25 years turned business owner. Giving you the tools you need to bring more drawing into your classroom brings me joy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hi there!

I create engaging drawing resources that help students build confidence and express themselves through art.


Blog Topics

Shop TPT


Save 15% on your next order when you join my email list.

join the club

Connect with a group of dynamic art teachers where we chat about all things drawing. Come ask me your questions or search for ideas in the posts. We’d love to have you!

In the Shop

You might Also Like:

Join the Group

Connect with a group of dynamic art teachers where we chat about all things drawing. Come ask me your questions or search for ideas in the posts. We’d love to have you!


I like to spoil my subscribers :-) 

(and my dog)

Join the list!

Get 15% off your next order just by subscribing to my emails!  

Thank you for subscribing!