"In a period when Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, Pop Art and many other movements came and went, Arnold persisted down her own path, eventually defining a singular position in American sculpture," says the gallery. "While Arnold’s own early role in the development and wide acceptance of Pop is made clear, it can also be argued that Arnold understood better than her peers the traditions of the first 'popular' American art forms found in vernacular, vintage folk objects such as weather vanes, decoys and hand-painted country advertising."
"Arnold’s work is quirky and personal, and humor is often a characteristic. Her animals’ body language is spot-on, whether it be the stretching lean of a cat, the raked ears of a crouching rabbit, or the unexpected lightness and grace of a large farm animal. We know an animal differently after seeing one of Arnold’s sculptures and, perhaps, care about them more for their individual traits evoked so precisely as essential form, gesture and presence."
Arnold’s art is radical—radically humane. Only a temperament in tune with sensibilities outside of her own—in fact, outside of her own species—could contrive personages as true and soulful as these. Don’t be fooled by the work’s accessibility and charm. It’s a sculptor of stringent gifts and focus that could pull off pieces like Ohno (Skunk) (1974-75) or Gretchen (Dachshund) (1978) without devolving into a cloying, folksy mannerism.
Which isn’t to say Arnold’s art doesn’t benefit from being accessible and charming. Viewers who don’t take instantaneous delight upon encountering Arnold’s work should check for a pulse—or a sense of humor. Delight is deepened upon realizing how seamlessly Arnold absorbs a cross-historical range of inspiration—from early dynastic Egypt and the Aztec Empire to American “primitives” and Russian Constructivism. But it is in direct experience, both in the barnyard and without, that Arnold’s art finds its locus and generates its abundant pleasures.
dachshunddogfemale artistacrylic on terra cotta