description of California Artist by Robert Arneson

A balding man with dark sunglasses and crossed arms smirks at us in this ceramic sculpture. The self portrait is roughly life-sized, standing approximately five and a half feet tall, and features Robert Arneson’s torso atop a pedestal. He has tufts of wavy grey hair above his ears, and a full, but trimmed, greying beard. His sunglasses feature open holes in place of lenses, which lead into his empty, hollow head. He wears an open blue denim shirt, exposing a strip of bare, hairy, belly and chest. The base of the cement grey pedestal on which his torso sits is marred by beer bottles and a cigarette butt. Near the bottom of the pedestal, the facade has been chipped away, revealing brown bricks underneath. Pressed into the center of the bricks is the artist’s last name, Arneson, in block letters. A tall, green marijuana plant has been painted into the matte glaze of the pedestal, as have a few tufts of grass.

Robert Arneson, California Artist, 1982
Robert Arneson, California Artist, 1982; stoneware with glazes, 68 1/4 in. x 27 1/2 in. x 20 1/4 in. (173.36 cm x 69.85 cm x 51.44 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Gift of the Modern Art Council; © Estate of Robert Arneson / Licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York, NY
Robert Arneson, California Artist, 1982

Artwork Info

Artwork title
California Artist
Artist name
Robert Arneson
Date created
stoneware with glazes
68 1/4 in. x 27 1/2 in. x 20 1/4 in. (173.36 cm x 69.85 cm x 51.44 cm)
Date acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of the Modern Art Council
© Estate of Robert Arneson / Licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York, NY
Permanent URL
Artwork status
Not on view at this time.

Please note that artwork locations are subject to change, and not all works are on view at all times. If you are planning a visit to SFMOMA to see a specific work of art, we suggest you contact us at to confirm it will be on view.

Only a portion of SFMOMA's collection is currently online, and the information presented here is subject to revision. Please contact us at to verify collection holdings and artwork information. If you are interested in receiving a high resolution image of an artwork for educational, scholarly, or publication purposes, please contact us at

This resource is for educational use and its contents may not be reproduced without permission. Please review our Terms of Use for more information.