Robert Arneson · Two-Dimensional Works

When Robert Arneson died in November 1992 at age 62, he left a tremendous legacy that is only now beginning to be re-evaluated and reconsidered. Although he was generally considered a Bay Area Funk ceramicist and was only occasionally referred to as an "artist," it is increasingly apparent that Arneson was a major sculptor and draftsman who transformed a generalized Funk aesthetic into a postmodern style that relied on the strategies of self-parody and humor to enable people to come to terms with new ways of thinking and feeling about individuality, the self, and humanity's role on this planet.

The gallery guide features the essay “Robert Arneson's Postmodern Two-dimensional Works” by Robert Hobbs, the Rhoda Thalhimer Endowed Professor of American Art History, Virginia Commonwealth University.

Arneson was born in Benicia, California. He graduated with a BA in 1954 from the California College of the Arts and earned an MFA in 1958 from Mills College. He also received honorary doctorates from the San Francisco Art Institute and the Rhode Island School of Design. Arneson became head of the ceramics department at the University of California at Davis in 1962, and he taught there for four decades.

He has had numerous gallery and museum exhibitions including solo-shows at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, both in 1974, and a 1992 exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. He has works in the collections of many American institutions, including the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas, Lawrence; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.