Installation View, Robert Arneson and William T. Wiley: early paintings, sculptures and collages, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2017.

Installation View, Robert Arneson and William T. Wiley: early paintings, sculptures and collages, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2017. 

Installation View, Robert Arneson and William T. Wiley: early paintings, sculptures and collages, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2017.

Installation View, Robert Arneson and William T. Wiley: early paintings, sculptures and collages, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2017. 

Installation View, Robert Arneson and William T. Wiley: early paintings, sculptures and collages, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2017.

Installation View, Robert Arneson and William T. Wiley: early paintings, sculptures and collages, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2017. 

Installation View, Robert Arneson and William T. Wiley: early paintings, sculptures and collages, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2017.

Installation View, Robert Arneson and William T. Wiley: early paintings, sculptures and collages, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2017. 

Installation View, Robert Arneson and William T. Wiley: early paintings, sculptures and collages, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2017.

Installation View, Robert Arneson and William T. Wiley: early paintings, sculptures and collages, George Adams Gallery, New York, 2017. 

Untitled  1964

William T. Wiley

Untitled

1964

Acrylic on board

55 1/2 x 48 inches

WTWp 19

Untitled (Buddy Boy)  1963

Robert Arneson

Untitled (Buddy Boy)

1963

Ceramic

17 x 40 x 20 inches

RAs 270

Folk Lore I  1961

William T. Wiley

Folk Lore I

1961

Oil on canvas

86 x 124 inches

WTWp 18

Untitled (Stomach Form)  c.1962

Robert Arneson

Untitled (Stomach Form)

c.1962

Glazed ceramic

10 1/2 x 13 1/2 x 9 ins

RAs 259

Untitled  1962

Robert Arneson

Untitled

1962

Paper collage with paint and cigarette butts

24 x 24 inches

RAp 14

Seattle World's Fair Collage  1962

Robert Arneson

Seattle World's Fair Collage

1962

Mixed media

24 x 24 inches

RAp 16

Untitled  c. 1961

William T. Wiley

Untitled

c. 1961

Oil on paper

12 x 6 inches

WTWp 17

Untitled  c. 1962

William T. Wiley

Untitled

c. 1962

Oil on board

Two panels, 8 x 10 inches, each

WTWp 16

Untitled (Man with Hat)  c. 1958

William T. Wiley

Untitled (Man with Hat)

c. 1958

Ceramic

25 1/2 x 11 x 10 inches

WTWs 7

Memorial Heart Trophy  1965

Robert Arneson

Memorial Heart Trophy

1965

Glazed ceramic

21 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches

RAs 263

The Critic (Alan Meisel)  1963-64

Robert Arneson

The Critic (Alan Meisel)

1963-64

Polychrome cast bronze

19 1/2 x 16 1/2 x 18 inches

unique

RAs 264

Lovin' Trophy  1965

Robert Arneson

Lovin' Trophy

1965

Glazed ceramic

27 x 19 1/2 x 10 inches

RAs 267

Robert Arneson

Flying Free

1964

Bronze

22 1/2 x 13 1/2 x 12 inches

unique

RAs 265

Robert Arneson

Play Girl

1964

Polychrome bronze

27 x 20 1/2 x 13 inches

unique

RAs 266

Grand Illusion  1964

William T. Wiley

Grand Illusion

1964

Oil on masonite

16 1/2 x 17 inches

WTWp 15

Horn Close Up  1964

William T. Wiley

Horn Close Up

1964

Mixed media construction

12 11/16 x 19 3/4 x 2 1/2 inches

WTWs 5

Wizdumb Bridge  1969

William T. Wiley

Wizdumb Bridge

1969

Watercolor, marker on paper

23 1/2 x 19 inches

WTWd 23

Press Release

During the month of June the George Adams Gallery will present an exhibition of rarely seen works from the 1960’s by Robert Arneson and William T. Wiley. The exhibition will feature surrealist and proto-Funk work, including ceramics, collages, and unique bronzes by Arneson; paintings, works on paper and, most notably, a ceramic sculpture and large abstract canvas by Wiley. With a focus on their early development, many of the pieces are highly experimental and yet provide context for their subsequent careers.

 

Robert Arneson and William T. Wiley were central figures in the emergence of the evolving art scene that flourished in the Bay Area in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. As key faculty in the recently formed art department at the University of Davis (both were hired in 1962), Arneson and Wiley's enthusiastic and unorthodox embrace of irony and punning, visually and literally, were central in the establishment of an uniquely Californian attitude, counter to the one fostered by the East Coast intelligentsia. The open and experimental atmosphere at Davis, with its roster of young faculty, aided in crystallization of a new type of art making and was the basis of the ‘Funk’ movement.

 

In the late 1950’s Arneson and Wiley were still working in the prevalent, expressionistic manner of the time as exemplified by the sculpture of Peter Voulkos and the painting of Hassel Smith. With the influence of abstract expressionism on the wane, many artists were looking for alternative modes and transgression remained a driving motivation. By the early 1960’s Arneson had made the transition from carefully crafted, utilitarian ceramics to non-functional three-dimensional forms that were increasingly pop-inflected and infused with sexual content. Similarly, Wiley began introducing imagery into his heavily impastoed abstractions, and making assemblages inspired in part by his Beat contemporaries and a personal interest in Zen thought. Despite these different trajectories, both were consciously looking to transform their art into a more personal discourse. Along with Bruce Conner, Roy De Forest, Peter Saul, they maintained a stance that was a direct challenge to the ascendant - and New York-centric - established norms of "good taste," a stance that came to define the art of the Bay Area for the next three decades.