Robert Arneson (1930–1992)
Glazed ceramic, 1978

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Sydney and Frances Lewis Foundation, 1985. Art © Estate of Robert Arneson / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

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Elvis as Julius Caesar is Robert Arneson’s variation on Elvis as the King of Rock and Roll. Arneson’s sly, monumental tribute is a humorous homage to Elvis’s place at the pinnacle of twentieth-century entertainment.

Satire, caricature, and exaggeration are all part of Arneson’s portraiture. His early work as a cartoonist is evident in his irreverent ceramic sculptures, which are often visual puns full of political and social commentary.

Arneson deliberately pushed artistic boundaries by rejecting traditional decorative or functional work in clay to create boldly expressive sculptures that would shock and amuse his audiences.

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