A Troublesome Subject: The Art of Robert Arneson

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-03-01
  • Publisher: Univ of California Pr

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The first major book to consider the life and work of Robert Arneson, A Troublesome Subjecttells the fascinating story of how a high school art teacher transformed himself into an artist of international stature and ambition. Representing the full scope of Arneson's career in a rich survey of color reproductions, this book is at once a study of the trajectory of contemporary culture, and the work of Robert Arneson, and the relationship between the two. It shows how Arneson's work articulated the crisis of narcissism that has defined American culture since 1970. Jonathan Fineberg develops his ongoing work toward a psycho-social history of art as he proceeds through Arneson's career--chronicling his early life, the formation of a personal style, and then finding a unique subject matter in his famous post-1970 turn to self-portraiture. Fineberg examines how the artist's self-critique revealed fundamental insights into his culture. He discusses the profound evolution in Arneson's subject matter from the self-portraiture of the seventies, as he progressed from mastering his craft, to finding his artistic identity and his subject matter. He follows the way that Arneson's commission to make a memorial portrait of assassinated San Francisco Mayor George Moscone catapulted the artist into a political practice, protesting militarism and nuclear proliferation; deepened his self-knowledge; and led to Arneson's transcendent last works.

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