Robert Indiana b.New Castle, Indiana 1928-
Born Robert Clark, he attended the Art Institute of Chicago between 1949 and 1953. There followed a summer at Skowhegan School of Painting, Maine. He then spent a year at the University of Edinburgh before returning to the States and settling in New York where he met Ellsworth Kelly whose hard edge abstractions were to have a great influence on the direction of his own art. His studio was at Coenties Slip where besides Kelly, his neighbours were other abstract artists, Agnes Martin and Jack Youngerman and future Pop artist, James Rosenquist.
From 1960 until 1962 he produced a series of wooden constructions combined with object trouvé that were suggestive of the human figure, calling them ‘Herms’. In 1961 Robert Indiana painted some hard-edged canvases adding stencilled lettering. This imbued them with the appearance of modern signage and commercial imagery.
Much of his art is very personal. During his Midwestern boyhood, highway signs had a particular symbolic importance for him. When his father, who worked a Phillips 66 gas station left his wife and son he did so down Route 66. The diner, which his mother subsequently ran, had the familiar “EAT” sign looming overhead. ‘LOVE’ may have embodied of the spirit of the flower power generation but he was raised as a Seventh Day Adventist. Every Sunday during his early childhood when he and his parents went to church, there above the altar were emblazoned the words, ‘God is LOVE’.
An admirer of literature, he has worked with American poet and author Robert Creeley on ‘Numbers’ and ‘The American Dream’.