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Arlo Acton

American, b. 1933

Moon Shot

Assemblage of wood, rubber, metal, and paint
64 x 44 in. (162.56 x 111.76 cm)
Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation

In the early 1960s, Arlo Acton was associated with the San Francisco Bay Area funk art movement. Funk artists, irreverent in their outlook toward traditional concepts of beauty and good taste, gravitated toward humorous or off-color subject matter and preferred to work with gritty or common materials. As a funk sculptor, Acton’s approach was to build cartoonish objects using scraps of wood or metal combined with discarded everyday objects.

Created at the height of the funk movement and just four years before the Apollo 11 moon landing, Moonshot is a clever parody of the kinds of modules that the United States and the Soviet Union were sending into outer space as they competed to be the first to land on the moon. Constructed from handles, cranks, knobs, and other fragments of once-utilitarian objects, the sculpture is decidedly funky in its unlikely combination of normally unrelated objects and its overall quirkiness, which stems in part from the fact that some of the parts are adjustable or even removable. These include a wooden lid that can be rotated and lifted at the top, a curving metal protrusion that can be unscrewed and removed at the bottom, and a moveable door around the neck of the sculpture that, when opened, reveals a wooden carving of the sun.

David S. Rubin

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