Jean Arp was born Hans Arp on September 16, 1886, in Strasbourg. From 1905 to 1907, Arp studied at the Kunstschule, Weimar, and in 1908 went to Paris, where he attended the Académie Julian. In 1914, he became acquainted with Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Amedeo Modigliani and Pablo Picasso.
In 1916, Hugo Ball opened the Cabaret Voltaire, which was to become the center of Dada activities in Zurich for a group that included Arp, Marcel Janco, Tristan Tzara, and others. Arp continued his involvement with Dada after moving to Cologne in 1919. He began contributing to magazines such as Merz, Mécano, De Stijl, and later to La Révolution surréaliste. Arp's work appeared in the first exhibition of the Surrealist group at the Galerie Pierre, Paris, in 1925. In 1926, he settled in Meudon, France. In 1931, Arp was associated with the Paris-based group Abstraction-Création and the periodical Transition.
Throughout the 1930s and until the end of his life, he continued to write and publish poetry and essays. In 1954, Arp received the Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale. A retrospective of his work was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1958, followed by another at the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, in 1962. Arp died June 7, 1966, in Basel.