Robert Arneson, ‘Bust’, 1977, Museum of Arts and Design

Image rights: Photo courtesy of Andrea Simon Nuñez

About Robert Arneson

Known for his colorful ceramic sculptures, Robert Arneson is considered the founder of the Funk Art movement, a strand of Californian Pop Art. Departing from the original influence of Picasso’s early ceramics on his work, Arneson significantly advanced the status of clay as an artistic form, appropriating functional items like pots, bricks, telephones, and toilets, and turning them into objects of absurdist humor. His visual puns—a phallic teapot, a toaster with a hand inside it—became surreal, sometimes controversial, statements. Arneson also produced highly colored drawings and sculpted self-portraits; his busts playfully mocked the figure of the artist in the world. His style has been compared to that of writers like Thomas Pynchon or Kurt Vonnegut, presenting a cartoonish or caricatured version of life.

American, 1930-1992, Benicia, California