Born as Armand Fernandez in 1928 at Nice, son of an antique dealer. He received his first lessons in painting by his father. In 1946 he took his Baccalauréat in philosophy and mathematic and began to study painting at the École Nationale d’Art Décoratif in Nice.
In 1947 he met Yves Klein and Claude Pascal in Paris. Completing his studies in Nice in 1949, he went to the École du Louvre, where he studied archaeology and oriental art.
His first « commercial » paintings were influenced by Surrealism.
In 1951 he became a teacher at the Bushido Kai Judo School. He completed his military service as a medical orderly in the Indo-Chinese War.
He did abstract painting in 1953 and took part in actions with Yves Klein, with whom he had been discussing subjects such as Zen Buddhism and astrology since 1947.
He was very impressed by a Kurt Schwitters exhibition in Paris in 1954 which inspired him to begin his work with stamp imprints, the Cachets.
He earned his living during this period through occasional jobs such as selling furniture or… harpoon fishing.
Arman had his first one-man exhibitions in London and Paris in 1956. In 1957 he travelled around in Persia, Turkey and Afghanistan. In 1958 he omitted the “d” in his name, inspired by a printer’s error. He started his monotypes using objects, his « Allures ».
In 1959 he did his first « Accumulations » and « Poubelles ». The Accumulations were assemblages of everyday objects and similar consumer articles displayed in boxes. The Poubelles were similar, but there he used collections of rubbish. In 1960 he became a founding member of the Nouveaux Réalistes. Through this group he made contact with members of the « Zero group ».
He had exhibitions in New York and Milan in 1961 and made his sliced and smashed objects (Couples, Colères). In 1962 he showed his art in various European cities and in Los Angeles, where Edward Kienholz assisted him.
He started his so-called Combustions, or burned objects, in 1963. A year later he took a
part-time residence in New York and had his first museum retrospectives at the Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, and at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
Plexi became his most important material. In 1965 and 1966 he got retrospective exhibitions in Krefeld, Lausanne, Paris, Venice and Brussels.
In 1967 he initiated collaboration between art and industry with the company Renault and represented France at “Expo ’67”, Montreal. He showed at the Venice Biennale and at Documenta IV in Kassel in 1968. In 1970 he started his famous Accumulations in
concrete and exhibited at the World’s Fair in Osaka. In 1971 he made some series with organic garbage embedded in plastic.
In 1972 Arman gained American citizenship in addition to his French nationality. In 1974 he toured with a retrospective through five North American cities, and returned to Paris. Since 1975 he resides in New York – where he has a studio – in Vence and in Paris.