Arnie Zimmerman (b.1954, Poughkeepsie, NY; d. 2021, Hudson, NY) began his career by building some of the largest ceramic sculpture that has ever been produced in an individual ceramic studio. On the scale of architecture, his huge carved vases appeared familiar but alien, like visitors from another planet or Stonehenge. Throughout his career Zimmerman explored human endeavor, the absurdity of human folly, in old stories and new, in scale that ranged from monumental to miniature, abstraction to figurative.
Zimmerman’s series of figurative ceramics, Men in Cities, is one example of his work that draws on the historic ceramic traditions of both Europe and Japan. The wood fired sculptures are a “figurine scale” and talk of human endeavor and folly. The artist’s studio was in New York on 9/11 and this series is about the city and its people in the aftermath.
In the series, ceramic figures set within urban architecture go about their daily activities and ordinary tasks, both mundane and remarkable, with a mix of resignation, dignity, humor, and more than a touch of the absurd. On one level, Zimmerman’s sculptures are brilliant parables of folly, the oldest of human themes and on another they ascribe dignity to ordinary tasks. These sculptures comment on human concerns and hum with the complexity of life.
Arnie Zimmerman’s work is in many public and private collections including: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA, The Museum of Ceramic Art, Alfred, NY; Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, MI; Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC; Museum of Decorative Arts, Montreal, Quebec; National Museum of American Art, Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, and others.