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Robert Arneson


Nose Brick

4.375 x 2.75 x 9.5 in.
Gift of the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation

Through employing humor, a biting wit, and tongue-in-cheek satire Robert Arneson expanded the possibilities of American sculptural ceramics. Nose Brick is a visual pun which combines the functionality of a clay brick with a deconstructed figural representation of the artist’s nose and mouth. Nose Brick exhibits fluidity and tension between different traditions of making. Trained by some of the most skilled potters in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Edith Heath, Antonio Prieto, Robert Arneson,and Viola Frey. Nose Brick represents a monumental shift in American ceramics away from the vessel tradition and toward experimental sculpture of the human figure. By inserting his own face and name onto Nose Brick, the object loses its traditional functionality and centers the ego of the artist over the anonymous brick maker.

Robert Arneson received both his Bachelor of Arts in 1954 and Master of Fine Arts in 1958 from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California. He was hired by the University of California, Davis to establish the ceramic sculpture program in 1962. Under Arneson’s leadership, Davis became an important epicenter for ceramic sculpture in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Matthew Limb

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