Arman is an "assemblage artist". He began his career with a series of artworks he called "accumulations" in 1959. He got the idea from boxes of old-fashioned glass -and-metal radio tubes he bought to use. The idea of collections of numerous like objects has occupied his work ever since. He has collected trash, nostalgic objects, and more recently new mass-produced objects for his works. His selection of specific objects often had political, social or personal meanings. The random arrangements of these objects also lends elements of chance to his work. In 1961, Arman began a new series based on processes of destruction which he called "slices." In the work he carefully destroyed objects by smashing them, burning them, or cutting them into strips and embedding them in the polyester. He said, "As far as I'm concerned, there is no fundamental difference between accumulating an object or smashing an object. One thousand objects are not different than one thousand pieces of the same object." Earlier in the 20th century, Marcel Duchamp, one of Arman's major influences and his good friend, said that ready-mades -- carefully selected single objects such as a snow shovel, a bicycle wheel or a urinal that Duchamp signed and therefore declared as art -- were artistic because he had "created a new thought for an object."

Arman similarly creates new thoughts for ordinary things in his work. Arman shares his time between France and New York City.