Robert Indiana

ROBERT INDIANA (b 1928)

The artist was born as Robert Clark at New Castle, Indiana. He studied at the Chicago Art Institute from 1949 to 1953 and at Edinburgh College of Art until 1954. He settled in New York and changed his name to Robert Indiana (which he describes as his “nom de brush”).

He soon began to use stencils to introduce words into his work and had his first one man show in New York in 1962.

Although he is identified with the New York “Pop Artists”, Indiana himself says “I was the least Pop of the Pop artists”. He prefers to describe himself as a “sign painter”.

His work can appear abstract and formal. It is flat and hard edged, cool and crisp. At the same time, this cool formality can often achieve an emotional charge through both vibrant colour combinations and the use of words. For example, the words EAT and DIE may be combined and his painting “Yield Brother” is concerned with nuclear war and was a contribution to the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation.

Perhaps the most familiar image is his LOVE design. This was first produced as a design for a Christmas Card for the Museum of Modern Art and has since appeared in prints, sculptures, jewellery and even on US postage stamps.

The cool, almost clinical, design is combined with electric colour combinations and, of course, the word itself has a number of associations with, for example, the ideals of the 60’s, with nurturing and the family, with eroticism, and with religion.

Sometimes, the “text” used in Indiana’s work has a personal significance for the artist. For example, the number 66 refers to the fact that his father worked for the oil company Phillips 66.

Indiana is also a poet. He has designed sets and costumes for the theatre, and he collaborated with Andy Warhol on the film “Eat”.

His work is held in many major collections and he has also exhibited widely, particularly in the United States and Europe.

“Some people like to paint trees. I like to paint love. I find it more meaningful”