Born in 1886 in Strasbourg, Alsace- Lorraine, Arp studied at the Kunstschule, Weimar from 1905-1907. He attended the Academie Julian in Paris in 1908 and one year later, moved to Switzerland where he was a founder of the Moderner Bund group in 1911. In 1913, he participated in the Erste deutsche Herbstsalon at the gallery Der Sturm, Berlin.
Arp moved to Zurich in 1915, where he produced tapestries and collages, sometimes in collaboration with Sophie Taeuber, who would become his wife in 1922. He was included in the Exposition Internationale Dada at Galerie Montaigne in Paris and the Kongress der Konstruktivisten in Weimar in 1922 and later became a regular contributor to an array of magazines, among them, the Dutch review, "De Stilj".
Arp wrote and published poetry and essays throughout the 1930s and in 1931, became associated with the periodical,"Transition". The Harvard Graduate Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts invited Arp to execute a relief in 1950 and in 1954 he would receive the Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale.