Jean Arp and other Dada artists embraced chance as a tool for liberating creativity from rational thought. An account by his friend and fellow artist Hans Richter describes how Arp created the “Chance Collages” like this one. Frustrated with a drawing he had been working on for some time, Arp finally tore it up and let the pieces flutter to the floor of his studio. Sometime later he happened to notice these same scraps of paper as they lay on the floor and was struck by the pattern they formed. It had all the expressive power that he had tried in vain to achieve.
Chance movements of his hand and the fluttering scraps of paper had achieved what all his efforts had failed to achieve, namely expression. He accepted this challenge from chance as a decision of fate and carefully pasted the scraps down in the pattern that chance had determined. To remove his artistic intervention even further, Arp sometimes used a paper cutter to cut the squares rather than tearing them by hand. While chance was undoubtedly the point of departure for this and other works in the series According to the Laws of Chance, the relatively ordered appearance of Arp’s collages suggests he did not fully relinquish control.