Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix, Arizona

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Arizona Collects Arneson


Phoenix Art Museum will present the works of Robert Arneson (1930-1992) in the Museum's Orme Lewis Gallery, July 31 - October 24, 1999.

Arizona Collects Arneson will include ceramic and bronze sculptures and an assortment of works on paper by the late artist. Organized by Phoenix Art Museum and culled from several area private and public collections, the exhibition provides an opportunity to follow Arneson's development from the early 1960s, when he was a young student of ceramics, to the 1980s, when he achieved international recognition. By the height of his career, Arneson had redefined ceramics, traditionally a craft medium, as a synthesis of painting and sculpture.

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Arneson was associated with a group of Bay Area artists who pioneered a style of art known as "funk," that involved the use of crude materials and embraced an irreverence for conventional standards of taste. Seeking to fuse humor with art, Arneson often poked fun at himself and, in many self-portraits, portrayed his own likeness in caricature. In Phoenix Art Museum's Stream-A-Head (1974), he addressed the subject of recent marital problems by showing his head barely above water. In this ceramic sculpture that sits directly on the floor, the water is composed from several painted and glazed ceramic chunks that envelop a terra-cotta self-portrait. in addition to his many self-portraits, Arneson applied his caricature style to political satire. In the 1980s, he confronted the issue of nuclear warfare by creating demonic-looking military aggressors such as "General Nuke," who appears in a 1986 lithograph.

Read more about the Phoenix Art Museum in Resource Library Magazine.

For further biographical information on the artist cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

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