Robert INDIANA played a central role in the development of assemblage art, hard-edge painting, and Pop art.
INDIANA, a self-proclaimed “American painter of signs,” created a highly original body of work that explores American identity, personal history, and the power of abstraction and language, establishing an important legacy that resonates in the work of many contemporary artists who make the written word a central element of their oeuvre.
Born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana, after graduating from the Art Institute of Chicago, the artist moved to New York City in 1954. In 1958, he changed his own name, adopting that of his home state, a type of rebirth. Through a chance encounter with the person who would become his mentor, partner, and one of the most influential figures in his artistic life, Ellsworth Kelly, INDIANA, was introduced to an area of the city where he became part of a community of artists that would come to include Kelly, Agnes Martin, James Rosenquist, Lenore Tawney, and Jack Youngerman.By 1961, INDIANA’s work had entered the Museum of Modern Art, and through his association with the Stable Gallery, Indiana was included on the list of artists to watch, and his work was quickly entering into many significant collections.
In 1965, INDIANA began a series of paintings based on an image created by him inspired by the written word. In 1966, INDIANA translated his trademark image, LOVE, into three- dimensional form. Global and viral appropriation followed shortly, with Indiana’s stacked and sculptural four-letter word becoming a cultural icon embedded in the American visual lexicon.
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