Label Text: "How flat can you go?" That is what Robert Arneson asked rhetorically in reference to his sculpture and lithograph entitled Up Against It. Best know for his whimsical and often satirical ceramic portrait heads, Arneson also began creating prints towards the end of his career. Both his sculptures and prints show a lifelong fascination with human physiognomy and its infinite capacity for human expression and emotion. His art is successful for its humor, its ability to strike a familiar chord with the viewer and its exceptional technique.
In Up Against It, Arneson uses a very non-traditional pose for a self-portrait. It is a bold work, in subject matter and in use of color. His pose shows a wry sense of humor but also asks a pointed question: If this were you, would you still be laughing? Arneson's use of bright oranges, blues and pinks in an almost pointillist, abstract expressionist style, heightens the playful quality. Here was an artist who obviously did not take himself too seriously.