I was rather appalled at this work of art, and not because of the message or the sculptural idea of combining breasts and a trophy. I was appalled because it looked so bad, like an after-hours ceramics class project that made everyone laugh — who was it handed to? — before it was thrown in the trash. But it's in the Smithsonian:
Robert ArnesonUh, thanks United States government for telling me this thing that I can perfectly well look at is "witty" and "pithy." Did our tax money buy that thing?
19 3/4 x 11 3/4 x 8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program
That sagging female breasts can be called a trophy contradicts the idea of commemorative trophies. Robert Arneson's observation of human behavior and American cultural mores—that men and women have an obsession with female breasts—inspired this trophy and its pithy social comment. The artist also brings to our attention the discomforting truth that women are often turned into objects. The most evident example of this cultural phenomenon is the phrase "trophy wife." The title Breast Trophy transforms the piece into a witty visual pun.