35 Year Portrait
Born: Benicia, California 1930
Died: Benicia, California 1992
glazed ceramic 76 1/4 x 25 5/8 x 27 1/4 in. (193.7 x 65.1 x 69.2 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Bequest of Edith S. and Arthur J. Levin
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, W310
Arneson said that he created his self-portraits because "I can poke fun at myself, I know myself better than anyone else, and I'm free." This two-faced portrait head mounted on a column satirizes the sculptures marking the graves of Greek and Roman heroes, and offers Arneson's darkly comic assessment of his own fate. He undercuts an image of classical beauty on one side of the column with a frank depiction of his middle-aged body and shaggy face on the other. He flippantly warns us that everyone ages and dies. On the column, three tic-tac-toe grids suggest the end of the game, and a jagged opening marked "Virgo Springs" resembles a wound or a blackened tumor, evoking the ravages of cancer that eventually killed the artist.
Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006
Object - written matter
Portrait male - Arneson, Robert - full length
Portrait male - Arneson, Robert - head
Portrait male - Arneson, Robert - nude
Portrait male - Arneson, Robert - self-portrait
About Robert Arneson
Born: Benicia, California 1930 Died: Benicia, California 1992
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