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Robert Arneson - Artists - Paul Thiebaud Gallery

Robert Arneson
Raft of the Quack Quack, 1991
glazed ceramic and concrete
27 x 20 x 19 in.  

Robert Arneson (1930-1992) is known as one of the pre-eminent American sculptors of his generation. Among a wave of ceramic artists in Northern California who bucked the confines of traditional craft techniques in favor of “content,” Arneson transformed the medium, setting a precedent with the complex, figurative ceramic sculptures that define his legacy. Though best known for his work in ceramic and bronze, he also made many works in two-dimensional media, including drawings, prints and paintings.

Arneson was born in Benicia, CA, the Bay Area city where he would later settle. While studying at the California College of Arts and Crafts, he became interested in ceramics, eventually earning an MFA under Antonio Prieto at Mills College in 1958. Arneson took a teaching position at the University of California, Davis in 1962, where he was a highly respected as a professor and community activist; he would remain on the faculty for nearly thirty years. By 1963, he had begun developing the irreverent approach to sculpture which characterized his early work, soon after dubbed: “Funk.” Arneson began using self-portraiture as a vehicle to examine the human condition in the 1970’s and his own image would be a recurring theme for the rest of his life. Other portraits – of friends and artists – followed, culminating in a monumental series around the life and work of Jackson Pollock that constitutes a significant part of his oeuvre. After 1981, Arneson’s output was increasingly politically charged, touching on issues such as nuclear proliferation and race relations. However, near the end of his life his work became more introspective and he eventually returned to self-portraiture in contemplation of his impending death.

Robert Arneson has been the subject of multiple museum retrospectives, and a survey of twenty-seven years of self portraits.  His works can be found in most major public and private collections both nationally and internationally.

"If the obsession is still with process and technique and surface, it's still a craft."

ROBERT ARNESON

1930
Born Benicia, CA

1992
Died Benicia, CA

 

EDUCATION

1958     MFA, Mills College, Oakland CA

1954     BA, California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA

 

TEACHING

1962-1991  Faculty, University of California, Davis

 

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2016  Robert Arneson: Guardians of the Secret II, Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco

2012  Self-Portraits in Bronze, Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco

2008  From the 60s, Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco

2004  Political Drawings, Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco, CA

          Arneson and the Object, Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA; Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC; George Adams Gallery, NY

2000  "This Head is Mine," The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, HI

1999  Robert Arneson: Double Portraits, Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco, CA (catalogue)

          Robert Arneson: Bronze Self-Portraits and Drawings, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA (catalogue)

1998  Robert Arneson: Guardians of the Secret II, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY

1997  Robert Arneson: Self-Reflections, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA (catalogue)

1996  Robert Arneson: Drawing, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY (catalogue)

1995  Robert Arneson: The Late Bronzes, Frumkin/Adams Gallery, New York, NY

1993  Arneson and Politics: A Commemorative Exhibition, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, CA (catalogue)

          Robert Arneson: The Last Works, John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, CA (catalogue)

1992  Robert Arneson: Guardians of the Secret II, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

1991  Robert Arneson: The Jackson Pollock Series, List Visual Arts Center, MIT, Cambridge, MA

1988  Robert Arneson: Art and Artists, Fuller Gross Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1987  Robert Arneson: Portrait Sculpture, Cleveland Museum of Art, OH (catalogue)

1986  Robert Arneson: A Retrospective, Des Moines Art Center, IA; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Portland Art Museum, OR; The Oakland Museum, CA (catalogue)

1979  Robert Arneson: Self-Portraits, Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, PA (catalogue)

1974  Robert Arneson, (retrospective exhibition), Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA (catalogue)

 

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2023  TWENTY-FIVE TREASURES SUMMER 2023, Paul Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco, CA (exhibition catalogue)

2022  FRAMED 2: Works by Peter Alexander, Robert Arneson, Andrew Belschner, Roy De Forest, Adam Fowler, and Paul Sarkisian, Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco, CA

         FRAMED: Works by Peter Alexander, Robert Arneson, Andrew Belschner, Roy De Forest, Adam Fowler, Dana Hart-Stone, Robert Hudson, Ed Moses, Ruth Pastine, Paul Sarkisian and Andrea Way, Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco, CA

2020  30th Anniversary Exhibition, Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco, CA; (exhibition catalog)

2019  Landscape Without Boundaries: Selections from the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, University of California, Davis

         About Face: Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture, Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, Montgomery, AL

2018–19  HINDSIGHT/INSIGHT: Reflecting on the Collection, University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, NM

         The Incongruous Body, American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona, CA

2018  30 Years: Frumkin/Adams – George Adams Gallery, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY

         40 by 40, Sonoma State University Art Gallery, Rohnert Park, CA, 2018.

2017–18  Figuratively Speaking, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

         Rise Up! Social Justice in Art from the Collection of J. Michael Bewley, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA

2017  Bay Area Clay: A Legacy of Social Consciousness, Arts Benicia, Benicia CA

          Piss and Vinegar, New York Academy of Art, New York, New York

2016–17  Out Our Way, Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, University of California, Davis

2016  Over the Golden Gate: 1960-1990, Tajan ArtStudio, Paris, FR, 2016.

          Mustard Road, The Battery SF, San Francisco, CA

          The Butterfly Effect: Art in 1970s California, Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto, CA

2015  The Ceramic Presence in Modern Art, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT

          What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, NY

2014  What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present, RISD Museum, Providence, RI

2007  Jackson, Contemporary Art Galleries, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut

          Dialogues: The Enigmatic Object, George Adams Gallery, New York, New York

          Inside/Outside, George Adams Gallery, New York, New York

          CCA at di Rosa Preserve: Art & Nature, Gatehouse Gallery, Napa, California

2006  2006 Collector's Show & Sale, Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, Arkansas

          The Artful Jester, The Painting Center, New York, New York; Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, Vermont

2005-06  Art of Engagement: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, and Sculpture, Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles, California

2005  Fired at Davis: Figurative Ceramic Sculpture from the Paula and Ross Turk Collection, Cantor Arts Center, Stanford, California

          Body Language, George Adams Gallery, New York, New York

          Paint on Metal: Modern and Contemporary Explorations and Discoveries, Tuscon Museum of Art, Arizona

2004–05  The True Artist is an Amazing Luminous Fountain: Selections from The di Rosa Preserve — Art and Nature, The Kreeger Museum, Washington, DC; di Rosa Preserve, Napa, CA; Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA; Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz, CA

2004  "Bush-Whack!", George Adams Gallery, New York, NY

2001  Poetics of Clay: An International Perspective, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philladelphia, PA

1999  The Art of Craft: Contemporary Works from the Saxe Collection, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA

1998  Leonardo Lives: The Codex Leicester and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Legacy of Art and Science, Seattle Art Museum, WA

1995  Facing Eden: 100 Years of Landscape Art in the Bay Area, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA

          Inside Out: Psychological Self-Portraiture, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT

1994  Black Male: Representations of Masculinity, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

          Elvis + Marilyn: 2 X Immortal, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; travelled

1992  Arneson, De Forest, Hudson, Wiley, San Jose Museum of Art, CA

1986  California Figurative Sculpture, Palm Springs Desert Museum, CA

1984  The Human Condition: Biennial III, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA

1981  Ceramic Sculpture: Six Artists, Whitney Museum of American Art, NY

1980  Sculpture in California 1975-1980, San Diego Museum of Art, CA

1979  West Coast Ceramics, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

          A Century of Ceramics in the United States, 1878-1978, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY; travelled

1977  Sculpture: American Directions 1945-75, National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

1970  Annual Exhibition: Contemporary American Sculpture, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

1969  The Spirit of Comics, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

1968  Dada, Surrealism, & Their Heritage, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

1967  Funk, University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, CA

          Arts of San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA

 

SELECTED PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum, Aichi, Japan

Akron Art Museum, OH

Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, OH

Anderson Collection at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, AZ

Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock

Art Institute of Chicago, IL

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, CA

Birmingham Museum of Art, AL

Boise Art Museum, ID

Cleveland Museum of Art, OH

Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Winter Park, FL

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA

The de Groot Foundation, Chicago, IL

Denver Art Museum, CO

Des Moines Art Center, IA

di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, Napa, CA

Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA

The Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, New York, NY

Hammer Museum at University of California Los Angeles

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

Honolulu Museum of Art, HI

Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum, University of California at Davis

Jewish Museum, New York, NY

Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana

Lannan Foundation, Santa Fe, NM

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA

Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, TN

Mildura Arts Center, Mildura, Australia

Milwaukee Art Museum, WI

Minnesota Museum of American Art, Saint Paul

Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, IL

Museum of Contemporart Art, Los Angeles, CA

Museum of Contemporary Ceramic Art, Pomona, CA

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary

Museum of Modern Art, Shiga, Japan

Richard Nelson Gallery and Fine Arts Collection, University of California, Davis

National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Australia

National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, KS

Neuberger Museum, State University of New York, Purchase, NY

Oakland Museum of California, CA

Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA

Palm Springs Art Museum, CA

Philadelphia Museum of Art, PN

Phoenix Art Museum, AZ

Pollock-Krasner Study Center, East Hampton, New York, NY

RISD Museum, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA

San Jose Museum of Art, CA

Santa Barbara Museum of Modern Art, CA

Seattle Art Museum, WA

Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, Japan

Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, IL

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

Saint Louis Art Museum, MO

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Stedelijk Museum, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

Toledo Museum of Art, OH

University of California, Davis

University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA

Virlane Foundation, New Orleans, LA

Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT

Frederick R. Weisman Foundation, Los Angeles, CA

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT

Robert Arneson Egyptian Jewel Box, 1965 glazed ceramic 13 1/2 x 13 x 11 in.

Robert Arneson
Egyptian Jewel Box, 1965
glazed ceramic
13 1/2 x 13 x 11 in.

Inquire
Robert Arneson Raft of the Quack Quack, 1991 glazed ceramic and concrete ​​​​​​​27 x 20 x 19 in.

Robert Arneson
Raft of the Quack Quack, 1991
glazed ceramic and concrete
27 x 20 x 19 in.

Inquire
Robert Arneson Souvenir #5 (Smorgi-Bob Trophy), Bob as Chef, c. 1972 glazed ceramic 9 3/4 x 4 1/2 x 3 1/4 in.

Robert Arneson
Souvenir #5 (Smorgi-Bob Trophy), Bob as Chef, c. 1972
glazed ceramic
9 3/4 x 4 1/2 x 3 1/4 in.

Inquire
Robert Arneson Egyptian Jewel Box, 1965 glazed ceramic 13 1/2 x 13 x 11 in.

Robert Arneson
Egyptian Jewel Box, 1965
glazed ceramic
13 1/2 x 13 x 11 in.

Robert Arneson Raft of the Quack Quack, 1991 glazed ceramic and concrete ​​​​​​​27 x 20 x 19 in.

Robert Arneson
Raft of the Quack Quack, 1991
glazed ceramic and concrete
27 x 20 x 19 in.

Robert Arneson Souvenir #5 (Smorgi-Bob Trophy), Bob as Chef, c. 1972 glazed ceramic 9 3/4 x 4 1/2 x 3 1/4 in.

Robert Arneson
Souvenir #5 (Smorgi-Bob Trophy), Bob as Chef, c. 1972
glazed ceramic
9 3/4 x 4 1/2 x 3 1/4 in.