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Robert Arneson

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Robert Arneson

American, (1930–1992)
Robert Arneson (September 4, 1930 - November 2, 1992) was an American sculptor and ceramicist who is considered the father of Funk Art, the anti-establishment movement that incorporated a mélange of found objects, autobiographical subjects, and humor. Arneson was additionally a professor of ceramics at the University of California, Davis for nearly three decades.

Born in Benicia, California, Arneson graduated from Benicia High School and spent much of his early life as a cartoonist for a local paper. Arneson studied at California College of the Arts in Oakland, California for his BFA and went on to receive an MFA from Mills College in 1958, studying with Antonio Prieto. During the start of the 1960s, Arneson and several other California artists began to abandon the traditional manufacture of functional ceramic objects and instead began to make nonfunctional sculptures that made confrontational statements. The new movement was dubbed Funk Art, and Arneson is considered the father of the ceramic Funk movement. In 1962, he was appointed professor of ceramics at UC Davis where he worked for nearly three decades, establishing the ceramic sculpture program and helping bring the previously maligned medium into the realm of fine art. He is perhaps best remembered for his Eggheads series, the bizarre sculptures of faces he installed around the UC Davis campus. He died on November 2, 1992 in Benicia, CA from liver cancer.


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