David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of early work by American ceramicist Robert Arneson (on view at the gallery’s 537 West 20th Street location). Closely associated with the countercultural California Funk movement of the 1960s, Arneson was integral in elevating ceramics from mere craft to a valid form of aesthetic expression. This exhibition brings together a grouping of Arneson’s seldom seen early works that simultaneously demonstrates the genesis of his unique artistic vocabulary and underscores his tremendous influence on generations of artists working in clay.
Having made his living as a high school (and sometimes college) ceramics teacher, in the spring of 1962, the still relatively unknown Arneson accepted a teaching position at the University of California’s Davis campus. Thanks in particular to the antiformalist leanings of its faculty, the newly established art program quickly gained a reputation for being a hotbed of experimental and conceptual work. Arneson's ceramics studio in particular became a focal point of artistic exchange and his students, including Bruce Nauman, would often stay there late into the night.