I want to make high art that is funny, outrageous and also reveals the human condition, which is not always high.

Robert Arneson

The James W. Hyams Collection

James W. Hyams started collecting art in 1967 when he was a student in college. The first work Hyams purchased—Vegetable Soup Can from Campbell’s Soup I by Andy Warhol—was paid for in installments and hung in his dorm room. A few years later, he purchased his second work by Warhol and from there collecting became a way of life. 

Over the years, Hyams has amassed a stunning collection of prints from 1960s to the present day. From Warhol to Hirst, or Lichtenstein to Doig, his collection is about as contemporary as it gets. Focusing on works that he likes by influential artists, his collection of more than 400 prints is an exceptional survey of the most important art movements of the second half of the 20th century and the start of the 21st century.  

Generous with his collection, Hyams has loaned many works to galleries and universities, sharing his collection with a public audience. Further, his pieces are proudly on display in his home, his acclaimed interior widely published. 

I don't buy pieces that I don't like. But I do have a purpose in my collection. I am interested in buying key artists from the period.

James W. Hyams

Published by Landfall Press

For fifty years, Landfall Press has pursued excellence in traditional printmaking as well as exploring the possibilities of three dimensional works. Although initially focused on lithography, founder Jack Lemon pushed the workshop’s artists to experiment with progressive techniques. Landfall Press has fostered relationships with many highly successful artists such as Claes Oldenberg, Kara Walker, and Lynda Benglis as well as artists outside of the mainstream that echo Lemon’s pencient for imagination and narrative content such as William T. Wiley and Robert Arneson. 

Robert Arneson 1930–1992

Robert Arneson’s propensity for questioning tactics and breaking rules are distinguishing characteristics in postwar American art. A central figure of the California Funk Art movement, Arneson and his peers were eager to distance themselves from the non-objectivity of Abstract Expressionism, and to embrace an unorthodox and sometimes rudimentary formalism that was both strange and refreshing. Inspired by Peter Voulkos’ unrepentant approach to clay, Arneson rejected the idea that it was a medium of only the utilitarian or decorative. Instead he chose to pioneer a new and unpracticed approach to what was a stalwart of functionality.

Arneson created facetious renditions of household wares, such as his irreverently modified and sexualized teapots, anthropomorphic trophies, surrealist self-portrait-busts, and non-utilitarian pots and bricks. The artist not only advanced the medium of clay—a hero for young and experimentally-inclined clay sculptors—he changed our system of value for what is the humblest of mediums. Arneson was responsible for generating a pivotal impact on one of art’s central roles, that of raising questions in order to change the way we view the world.

Arneson was born in Benicia, California, in 1930. He studied at the California College of the Arts (then the California College of Arts and Crafts) receiving his BA in 1954 and his MFA in 1958 from Mills College. Arneson became head of the ceramics department at the University of California at Davis in 1962 and a full professor of art in 1973. He received honorary doctorates from the San Francisco Art Institute and the Rhode Island School of Design, and awards from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and the American Craft Council. Arneson has had numerous gallery and museum exhibitions including solo-shows at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, both in 1974, and a 1992 exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. The artist is in the collections of many august institutions, such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The artist died in Benicia, California in 1992.

Auction Results Robert Arneson