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In 1915 Arp was commissioned to decorate the interior walls of a theosophical institute in Paris. He cut large paper shapes in a variety of colors and covered the walls with these "lyrical abstractions," as Richter called them. In 1916 these paper shapes evolved into amoeba-like wood reliefs which Arp painted in various colors, cut rounded holes into, superimposed in several layers, and hung on walls. Although given names suggesting representational images, few of these sculptures were anything but abstract flights of fancy. Speaking of Arp's sculpture, Robert Melville wrote in Arp that many of Arp's works could "be described as the relief maps of a poetic cosmogony: they appear to relate to Arp's avowed interest in the Pre-Socratic philosophers, and in particular to their speculations upon the originative material of things and the coherence of the natural world." Thomas B. Hess, writing in ARTNews, found that Arp's sculpture exhibited a kind of mysticism set off by his "balancing force, wit. It combines with all his philosophies to set up an equilibrium and tension of form and content."

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