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Image of Oily Bush

Oily Bush

47 1/2 x 31 3/4 in. (120.65 x 80.65 cm)

Robert Arneson (Benicia, California, 1930 - 1992, Benicia, California)

Object Type: Drawing
Medium and Support: Conté crayon, oil stick, and plastic enamel on paper
Credit Line: Gift of The Lipman Family Foundation
Accession Number: 2007.06

SJMA Label Text

Renegade Humor (2012)

Beginning in the 1980s, Robert Arneson increasingly expressed in his art his views of social justice and humanitarian issues. During the height of the Cold War, he made several works that address the threat of nuclear war. Arneson also depicted San Francisco’s political figures, such as Diane Feinstein, as well as national and international leaders, such as Ronald Reagan and Muammar Qaddafi. These depictions were a response to current events and expose the shortcomings of their leadership.

Created in response to Operation Desert Storm, Oily Bush is a ghastly portrait of President George H.W. Bush. The commander-in-chief wears a green necktie bearing red dollar signs; oil oozes over his face. Arneson’s harsh caricature suggests that Bush’s motivation for military action was to keep oil flowing into America.


Renegade Humor
, February 3, 2012 - July 8, 2012, New Wing, Second Floor, Central Skylight and South Metro A Galleries, San José Museum of Art.

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  • Image Dimensions: 47 1/2 x 31 3/4 in. (120.65 x 80.65 cm)

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