Robert Arneson (1930-1992; USA)

Untitled, with Red Glaze Clef


Glazed Stoneware; ht. 11.5, wd. 13.5, dp. 6.5 in. 

Incised Artist signature and date at foot.

The mawkish yet erotic mid-60’s vessels are a form of exorcism. Arneson is expelling the pottery tradition and abstract expressionism at the same time, two elements that were powerful influences when he was beginning his career and against which he rebelled. It also suggests a flushing out of certain European Modernism as well, such as the fluid art of Arp, leading to an all-American vision of inverted Pop.

These vessel/sculptures are profound and important works, his Rosetta Stones in a sense, and are necessary for understanding Arneson’s later oeuvre. It captures his approach to clay, an aesthetic that so deliberately lacked overt refinement that many, wrongly, described his style as amateurish. Indeed its squishy fecundity was carefully developed and remained with him through the 1960’s even with his figurative work, until he began his portraits, to exhibit more “conventional” skill with his superb large-scale modeling of busts and other works. 


Provenance: The Collection of Allan Stone, New York Arneson Estate Number 64.048.C Literature: Robert Arneson: Playing Dirty, New York: Allan Stone Gallery, 2012, p. 32 illus.

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