Arman was in fact born Armand Pierre Fernandez in Nice, France, in 1928. He studied at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Nice and at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris. He moved to the United States in 1961 and became an American citizen in 1973.
His work aimed at critiquing consumerism, waste, and mass production. During a career that spanned five decades, he had over 600 solo-exhibitions, including retrospectives at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts in 1991 and at Jeu de Paume in 1998, as well as public art commissions such as Long Term Parking (1982) in Jouy-en-Josas, France and Hope For Peace (1995) in Beirut, Lebanon. His work is included in many esteemed collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Tate Modern, and the Centre Pompidou.
Best known for his unique style of found-object sculpture, he was a founding member of the Nouveau Réalisme movement, Arman was a multidisciplinary talent, most renowned for his Accumulation and Poubelle sculptures. Two distinct strategies, the Accumulations are assemblages of identical objects, often suspended in resin or staged in Plexiglas boxes, while the Poubelles are arranged collections of trash and other refuse.