Project Description

Robert Arneson

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Robert Arneson was born in Benicia, California. He graduated from Benicia High School and spent much of his early life as a cartoonist for a local paper. He studied at California College of the Arts in Oakland, California for his BFA and went on to receive a MFA from Mills College in 1958. In the early 1960s, Arneson and several other California artists began to abandon the traditional manufacture of functional ceramic objects and instead began to make nonfunctional sculptures that made confrontational, political and social statements. The new movement was dubbed as Funk Art, and Arneson is considered the father of the ceramic Funk movement.

His body of work contains many self-portraits which have been described as an “autobiography in clay”. Doyen from 1972 in the collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art is an example of the artist’s humorously caricatured self-portraits. Even his large Eggheads sculptures bear a self-resemblance. Among the last works Arneson completed before his death in 1992, five Eggheads were installed on the campus of University of California, Davis around 1994. The controversial pieces continue to serve as a source of interest and discussion on the campus, even inspiring a campus blog by the same name. Two additional copies of Eggheads were installed in San Francisco.

Arneson’s teaching career began soon after receiving his MFA. He has taught at Santa Rosa Junior College, Fremont High School, and Mills College before moving onto UC Davis, where his talents were recognized by Richard L. Nelson, the founder of the Art Department. During this time of the early 60’s, Nelson was assembling a faculty that would come to be celebrated as one of the most prestigious in the nation. In addition to Arneson, Nelson had also selected Manuel Neri, Wayne Thiebaud and William T. Wiley, each of whom would go on to achieve international recognition.

Initially hired to teach design classes, it was Arneson who established the ceramic sculpture program for the Art Department. In many ways, it was a bold a radical move in that ceramics was not yet recognized as a medium appropriate for fine art at that time. Since its founding, the campus ceramics studio has been housed in a corrugated metal building known as TB-9, and it was here that Arneson held court for nearly three decades until his retirement in the summer of 1991.

The John Natsoulas Gallery makes a special note that Arneson was deeply involved with the inception of the gallery and it maintains profound admiration and respect for the community that continues on in Arneson’s stead.

Artwork

All Artists

CV

1949–1951
College of Marin, Kentfield, CA
1954
BA, California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA
1958
MFA, Mills College, Oakland, CA
1985
Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
1987
Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, San Francisco Art Institute, CA
1991
Academy-Institute Award in Art, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters
1992
Fellowship American Craft Council
1992
Died in Benicia, CA

Exhibitions

2013
“Robert Arneson: Troublesome Subjects: Three Decades of Paintings, Sculpture, and Works on Paper,” George Adams Gallery, New York, NY, 2013 (solo)
2013
“The Pop Object: The Still Life Tradition in Pop Art,” Acquavella Galleries, New York, NY
2012
“Robert Arneson: Playing Dirty,” Allan Stone Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
2012
“Robert Arneson: Installation of Works from the Collection,” San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA (solo)
2012
“Robert Arneson: Self Portraits in Bronze” Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco, CA (solo)
2012
“Ink,” Sacramento City College’s Kondos Gallery, Sacramento, CA
2012
“Pop! Goes the Humor,” Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA
2012
“Group Shoe,” Gavin Brown Enterprise, New York, NY, 2012
2011
Important Artworks, George Krevsky Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2011
Group Show: Size Matters: Large-Scale and Small-Scale Paintings, Drawings and Sculptures, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY
2010
Summer Group Show: New and Classic, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY
2010
Robert Arneson: Founding Funk: Sculptures and Drawings 1956-66, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
2009
Summer Group Show, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY
2009
Dirt on Delight: Impulses That Form Clay, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA
2008
Robert Arneson from the 60’s, Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco, CA (solo)
2008
The Grand Ceramics Theater, Museo Internazionale della Arti Applicate Oggi, Turin, Italy
2007
2007 Collector’s Show, Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AK
2007
Jackson, Contemporary Art Galleries, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
2007
Dialogues: The Enigmatic Object, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY
2007
Inside/Outside, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY
2007
CCA @ di Rosa Preserve: Art & Nature, Gatehouse Gallery, Napa, CA
2007
Robert Arneson: The Black Series, Selected Works 1988-1990, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
2006
Robert Arneson: Sculpture, Paintings and Drawings 1958-1992, George Adams Gallery at the ADAA Art Show, Seventh Regiment Armory, New York, NY (solo)
2006
2006 Collector’s Show, Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AR
2006
Artful Jesters, The Painting Center, New York, NY and Brattelboro Museum & Art Center, Brattleboro, VT
2006
A Ceramic Legacy: Selections from the Stephanie Janssen and R. Michael Johns Collection, Arizona State University Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ
2006
Group Show, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY
2005–2006
Art of Engagement: Paintings, Drawings, Prints and Sculpture, Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles, CA
2005
Fired at Davis: Figurative Ceramic Sculpture from the Paula and Ross Turk Collection, Cantor Arts Center, Stanford, CA
2005
Body Language, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY
2005
Paint on Metal: Modern and Contemporary Explorations and Discoveries, Tuscon Museum of Art, Tuscon, AZ
2004
Bush- Whack!, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY
2004
Humor, Irony and Wit: Ceramic Funk from the Sixties and Beyond, Arizona State University Art Museum, Ceramics Research Center, Tempe, AZ
2004
Arneson and the Object, curated by Leo Mazow, Palmer Museum of Art, University Park, PA; travelling to Greenville County Museum, Greenville, SC and George Adams Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
2004
Robert Arneson: Political Drawings, Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco, CA (solo)
2003–2004
The Not-So-Still Life: A Century of California Painting and Sculpture, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA; traveling to the Pasadena Museum of California Art, Los Angeles, CA
2003
Sculpture in the City, San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco, CA
2003
Multiple Artists, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY
2003
Global Village: The 1960s, Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Montreal, QC, Canada
2003
Big Idea: The Maquettes of Robert Arneson, Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto, CA; Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA; The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, HI; Museum of Glass: International Center for Contemporary Art, Tacoma, WA; Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden, Lincoln, NE; David and Alfred Smart Museum, Chicago, IL (solo)
2003
A Happening Place, The Gershman Y, Philadelphia, PA
2003
Aftershock: Legacy of the Readymade in Post-War and Contemporary American Art, Dickinson Roundell, New York, NY
2003
Poetics of Clay, curated by Helen Drutt, Houston Center for Contemporary Clay, Houston, TX
2003
Form from Fire: Robert Arneson, Viola Frey, Ken Price, Michael Lucero, Peter Voulkos, Scott White Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CA
2003
In the Eye of the Beholder, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY
2003
Clay Works: American Ceramics from the Everson Museum of Art, Everson Museum, Syracuse, NY
2003
Sweet Tooth, curated by Sarah Tanguy, COPIA, Napa, CA
2002
Contemporary American Ceramics 1950-1990 – A Survey of American Objects and Vessels, Organized by The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, traveled throughout Japan to: Achi Prefectural Ceramic Museum, Achi; The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; Ibaraki Prefectural Ceramic Museum, Ibaraki; Niigata Prefectural Museum of Art, Niigata; Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo; Fukuoka Prefectural Muesum of Art, Fukuoka
2002
The Perception of Appearances: A Decade of American Contemporary Figurative Drawing, Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA
2002
Me, Myself & I, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY
2001–2002
Real(ist) Men, Selby Gallery, Ringling School of Art and Design, Sarasota, FL
2001
Holocaust: A Broad Perspective, Gallery West, Suffolk County Community College, Brentwood, NY
2001
From Pop to Op: American Art in the 60s, Suzanne H. Arnold Gallery, Lebanon Valley College, Anneville, PA
2001
2001 Collector’s Show, Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AR
2001
Magic Vision, Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AR
2001
About Face: The Collection of Jackye and Curtis Finch, Jr., Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AR
2001
The Poetics of Clay, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA
2001
Self Made Men, DC Moore Gallery, New York, NY
2000–2001
This Head is Mine, The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, HI (solo)
2000–2001
Confrontational Clay: The Artist as Social Critic, Organized by Exhibits USA, Traveled to University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL; Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples, FL; The Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR; American Craft Museum, New York, NY; Flint Institute of Art, Flint, MI; Middlebury College Museum of Art, Middlebury, VT; Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, OH
2000
2000 Collector’s Show, Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR
2000
American Embassy Windhoek, Namibia
2000
The Lighter Side of Bay Area Figuration, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO and San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA
1999–2000
George Washington – American Symbol, The Museums at Stonybrook, New York, NY; the Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, PA; Museum of Our National Heritage, Lexington, MA
1999–2000
Robert Arneson: Bronze Self-Portraits and Drawings, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA; travelling to; George Adams Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1999
Robert Arneson: Double Portraits, Brian Gross Fine Art. San Francisco, CA (solo)
1999
Robert Arneson: Painting into Sculpture, Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery, Lebanon Valley College, Annville, PA (solo)
1999
Born of Clay 3, Garth Clark Gallery, New York, NY
1999
Bob Arneson and Friends, John Natsoulas Gallery, Davis, CA
1999
Artists for Mumia 911, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY
1999
Annual Collector’s Show, Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR
1998
American Embassy Russia
1995–1998
It’s Only Rock and Roll, Exhibition Management, Inc., Cleveland, OH; Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ; Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH
1997
A Singular Vision: Prints from Landfall Press, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
1997
Mixing Business with Pleasure, Sawhill Gallery, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
1997
A Show of Hands, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY
1997
Robert Arneson: Self-Reflections, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA (solo)
1996
Robert Arneson: Drawing, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1996
It Figures, SFA Gallery, Nacogdoches, TX
1996
Alteration, K & E Gallery, New York, NY
1996
Out of ‘Toon’: Another Look at Art & the Comics, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY
1995
California in the 1960’s: Funk Revisited, Frumkin/Adams Gallery, New York, NY
1995
Robert Arneson: The Late Bronzes, Frumkin/Adams Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1994–1995
Robert Arneson: Changing the Face of American Ceramics, Kingsborough Community College Art Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
1994
The Figure in Sculpture, Transamerica Pyramid Lobby, San Francisco, CA
1994
Around the House, Frumkin/Adams Gallery, New York, NY
1994
Black Male: Representations of Masculinity, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
1994
When Attitudes Become Form: Selections from a Contemporary New Jersey Collection, The Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ
1992–1994
Bridges and Boundaries: African Americans and American Jews, Jewish Museum, New York, NY; Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA; The Strong Museum, Rochester, NY; The Jewish Historical Society of Maryland, Inc., Eubie Blake National Museum and Cultural Center, Baltimore, MD; National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center, Cultural Museum and National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, PA; Chicago Historical Society, Chicago, IL
1993
Robert Arneson: The Last Works, John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, CA (solo)
1993
Arneson and Politics: A Commemorative Exhibition, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, M.H. deYoung Memorial Museum, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA (solo)
1993
A Memorial Exhibition, Frumkin/Adams Gallery, New York , NY (solo)
1993
Robert Arneson: Two-dimensional Works, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS (solo)
1992–1993
Guardians of the Secret II, Museum of Art, University of Northern Iowa, Iowa City, IA (solo)
1992
Dorothy Goldeen Gallery, Santa Monica, CA (solo)
1992
Masks, Drawing Gallery, Frumkin/Adams Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1992
Robert Arneson: Guardians of the Secret II, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA (solo)
1992
Me and Jackson: Robert Arneson Interprets Jackson Pollock, Pollock-Krasner House, East Hampton, NY (solo)
1992
Dorothy Goldeen Gallery, Santa Monica, CA (solo)
1992
Large-Scale Drawings, Frumkin/Adams Gallery, New York, NY
1992
40th Anniversary Exhibition, Frumkin/Adams Gallery, New York, NY
1991
Academy-Institute Invitational, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York, NY
1991
Collectors’ Gallery XXV, Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX
1991
Experiencing Sculpture: The Figurative Presence in America, 1870-1990, The Hudson River Museum of Westchester, Yonkers, NY
1991
Robert Arneson: The Jackson Pollock Series, List Visual Arts Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA (solo)
1991
Robert Arneson: Guardians of the Secret II, Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, MA (solo)
1991
Robert Arneson: New and Selected Work, Sawhill Gallery, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA (solo)
1990
Black, Frumkin/Adams Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1990
Candy Store Gallery, Folsom, CA (solo)
1990
Guardians of the Secret II, Frumkin/Adams Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1990
Robert Arneson/ Matrix 110: From the Jackson Pollock Series, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT (solo)
1990
Ironies: Figure and Still-Life in Sculpture, Marilyn Pearl Gallery, New York, NY
1990
Signs of the Self: Changing Perceptions, Woodstock Artists Association, New York, NY
1990
Figuring the Body, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
1989
Personae, Islip Art Museum, East Islip, NY
1989
Here’s Looking at Us: A Selection of Figurative Works from the di Rosa Foundation, Rasmussen Art Gallery, Pacific Union College, Angwin, CA
1989
Human Concern/Personal Torment: The Grotesque in American Art, Phyllis Kind Gallery, New York, NY; Chicago, IL
1989
Taboo, Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, WA
1988
A Fine Place to Work: The Legacy of the Archie Bray Foundation, Arkansas Arts Center Decorative Arts Museum, Little Rock, AR
1988
Columnar, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY
1988
1900 to Now: Modern Art from Rhode Island Collections, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
1988
Charles Scott Gallery, Emily Carr College of Art, Vancouver, BC, Canada (solo)
1988
Dorothy Goldeen Gallery, Santa Monica, CA (solo)
1988
Fuller Gross Gallery, San Francisco, CA (solo)
1987–1988
Committed to Print., Museum of Modern Art, New York , NY
1987
All the News That’s Fit for Prints, P.P.O.W., New York, NY
1987
Robert Arneson – Sculpture, Paintings, Drawings, Payne Gallery, Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA (solo)
1987
Robert Arneson – Portrait Sculpture, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (solo)
1986–1987
Robert Arneson: A Retrospective, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR; Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA (solo)
1986
Nuclear Visions, Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL (solo)

Public Collections

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Fracisco, CA
Santa Barbara Museum of Modern Art, Santa Barbara, CA
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, Japan
Smart Gallery, University of Chicago
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT
Museum of Modern Art, Shiga, Japan
Richard Nelson Gallery and Fine Arts Collection, University of California, Davis, CA
National Museum of Art, WA
Neuberger Museum, State University of New York, Purchase, NY
Oakland Art Museum, Oakland, CA
Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA
Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA
Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ
Pollock-Krasner Study Center, East Hampton, New York, NY
Art Museum, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, TN
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Mildura Arts Center, Mildura VIC, Australia
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Contemporary Museum, Hawaii
Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Winter Park, FL
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
Di Rosa Foundation, Napa, CA
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY
Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
Jewish Museum, New York, NY
Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum, Aichi, Japan
Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH
Allen Memorial Art Gallery, Oberlin College, Ohio
American Craft Museum, New York, NY
Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Australian National Gallery, Parkes ACT, Australia
Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL
Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH