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Face to Face: Viola with Gold

Posted on by tamsp

The exhibition “Face to Face” engages you with nine extraordinary individuals from the permanent collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. To create this Art Remix, spaces in the museum that encourage connection and interaction, we have transformed the second floor hallway into a multicultural crossroads, where personalities usually separated in the MIA galleries according to geography, time period, or collection area, come together to inspire new ways of looking and thinking.


Robert Arneson
American, 1930–92
Viola with Gold, 1988
Glazed ceramic, gilt
Gift of various donors, by exchange 2001.216

Who am I?

I am Viola Frey, a California sculptor known for my larger-than-life,
colorfully glazed, clay sculptures of men and women. In the 1960s
and 1970s, I helped push the limits of clay from craft to fine art by
discovering new techniques of construction, firing, and glazing that
allowed for larger, more sculptural works.

Who made me?
My friend and fellow San Francisco Bay area ceramic artist Robert
Arneson, who likewise was known for his expressive sculptural work
in clay, made this portrait of me in 1988. One of the originators of
a style known as “California Funk,” he specialized in facetious and
comedic portraits.

Why?
While I used figurative sculpture to portray aspects of “everyman”
and “everywoman,” Robert often used his portrait busts to cele-
brate artists he admired, make fun of politicians, and explore his
own internal world. His goal was to capture in his art the particular
psychology, style, and tenor of his times.

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