Best known for his LOVE paintings and sculptures (1966), Robert Indiana’s reputation as the originator of these ubiquitous symbols of peace has overshadowed the depth of his contributions to post-war American art. Born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana, in 1928, Indiana studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. After moving to New York he took the name of his home state to distinguish himself from the multitude of other artists working there.
Words have been an important component of Indiana’s work not only in books but in all media. His early work included wood sculptures called Herms which he made from found objects and stenciled with words. His paintings prominently featured words and numbers and were characterized by a bold style with hard edges and bright, flat colors. Because his paintings alluded to road signs and Americana, he is often considered to be an important member of the Pop Art movement although the gravitas of his interest in social and political issues and his use of literary references sets him apart from most of the artists in that movement. With works such as The Calumet (1961) and The Confederacy series (1965-66), Indiana addressed the illusion of the American dream.
In addition to painting and sculpture Indiana has made prints throughout his career, often using the screenprint process because it suited his bold, hard-edged style. His graphic work includes contributions to over twenty books and portfolios. Trilove (1969) and Book of Love (1996) both feature poems and screenprints by Indiana. Published both as a portfolio and as a bound book, Numbers (1968) reproduces Indiana’s Numbers paintings of 1965 as screenprints accompanied by poems of Robert Creeley inspired by these paintings. Collaborative portfolios that Indiana contributed to include Stamped Indelibly (1967), featuring rubber stamp prints and texts by Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, Claes Oldenburg, and others, in addition to Indiana, and include An American Portrait, 1776 – 1976 (1976), featuring prints by a wide range of other artists, such as Romare Bearden, Henry Moore, Alex Katz, and Rufino Tamayo.
Indiana’s works are held in many important public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, and the National Gallery of Art. In 2013, the Whitney Museum of American Art held a career-spanning retrospective of Indiana’s work.
Books by Robert Indiana available from Boreas Fine Art:
Indiana, Robert. American Dream. El Segundo: Marco Fine Arts Contemporary Atelier. 1997.
Ting, Walasse. 1 ¢ Life. Bern: E.W. Kornfield. 1964. (Original lithographs by Jim Dine, Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann and 23 others.)
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