Robert Arneson: Captain Ace, 1978

c/o Pictoright Amsterdam/Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Robert Arneson -
Robert Arneson's Captain Ace is an example of the artist's ceramic self-portraits. The details in this work allude to Arneson both literally and symbolically. The ceramic sculpture depicts the artist wearing a flight jacket and aviator's cap. Perched on top of Captain Ace's head is a turkey laying eggs and defecating. The animal represents a strong brand of bourbon whiskey, 'Wild Turkey', which Arneson kept in his studio. It is thus a reference to his drinking habits. Expanding on this allusion is the idea of the bomber pilot "getting bombed" (a colloquialism for getting drunk) on Wild Turkey. On the back of the bust is 'GOTTA DATE WITH AN ANGEL', calling to mind the artist's struggle with cancer. The title is descriptive and the meaning of the work is thus derived from elements that refer to the artist's personal life. With his use of symbols Arneson tried to express difficult emotions behind a mask of humour. By integrating provocative and often vulgar forms within the mode of traditional portraiture he wanted to stretch the boundaries of 'high art'.
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112 x 60 x 47 cm.
object number
BA 3595(1-2)

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