Robert Arneson


1930, Benicia, Bay Area
1992, Benicia, Bay Area

SFMOMA curator Gary Garrels tells the story of Robert Arneson's infamous portrait of former San Francisco mayor George Moscone.

Audio Stories

The persistence of clay

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The one thing about why everybody gets into this clay business anyway. As students, as teachers, as makers, and as artists, as craftsmen, it is that seductiveness and the sense that it’s that one material that’s going to leave the imprint of your hand. Everyone is searching for that sense of eternity. Something about touching the clay. And there’s my thumbprint. 

I’ve now recorded my existence in the mud and I can fire it, and it’s going to last forever. And the ultimate feature is that in the end, you still rely on the gods because you’re never sure of what it’s going to look like when you open the kiln door. 

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