Robert Arneson (American, 1930-1992)

Arneson was a sculptor and professor of ceramics who taught at the University of California, Davis for almost three decades alongside other famous artists like Wayne Thiebaud and William T. Wiley. He became part of the 1960s interest in abandoning functional ceramics in favor of making artistic statements using the medium—a movement he helped to develop called Funk Art. Arneson was known for his many self-portraits where he caricatured himself through exaggerated facial expressions, bright colors, props, and darkly direct humor.

Arneson started as a cartoonist for a local paper and attended the California College of the Arts and Mills College both in Oakland, California. He established the ceramics program at UC Davis at a time when ceramics was not commonly recognized in fine art schools. Collections of his work are wide-reaching, including at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; the Honolulu Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Kyoto, Japan; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin; and the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama.