The Essential Robert Indiana
The first print retrospective of Robert Indiana’s powerful graphic work in over 40 years will premiere in the state whose name he adopted as his own.
The EssentialRobert Indiana will re-affirm the artist’s role as one of the premiere printmakers in modern art and demonstrate the importance of his graphic works in the context of his larger career. The first touring retrospective of Indiana’s graphic work since 1969, the exhibition will feature more than 50 works—including 20 from the IMA’s own collection. This exhibition is organized with the active participation of the artist and presents a uniquely autobiographical approach to Indiana’s work that has never before been explored indepth.
The Essential Robert Indiana explores the stories behind many of Indiana’s most iconic works for the first time, using material drawn from extensive oral and video interviews with the artist to uncover new meanings and complexities. The fifty-seven prints featured in the exhibition include his “American Dream” series and his homages to such painters as Picasso, Charles Demuth and Marsden Hartley. The exhibition will also include several examples of Indiana’s famed “LOVE”, an image that began as a Christmas card design and morphed into the most recognizable of Indiana’s images—and one of the most iconic images in the history of American art. While Indiana’s “LOVE” has taken many forms, the most common colors used are red, green, and blue, inspired by the colors of the Phillips 66 gasoline station signs, the company for which his father worked in the 1930s, and the blue of the Hoosier sky. The exhibition will also feature 21 “autoportraits” made by the artist over the course of his career that use symbols and forms related directly to his location, sources of inspiration, and state of mind at the time they were made.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a 150-page, fully illustrated monograph that includes an essay by John Wilmerding, a former curator and professor at Princeton. The catalogue will feature a series of 1960s portraits of Robert Indiana taken by photographer William John Kennedy, including some images published for the first time. It will also feature individual decodings of Indiana’s prints by exhibition curator Martin Krause as revealed to him through continuing conversations with the artist. Co-published with Del Monico/Prestel, the catalogue will be accompanied by a digital publication that will include expanded content.
Robert Indiana was born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana, in 1928. He received a degree from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1953, and settled in New York in 1954. Indiana’s work has been shown at more than 30 museums and galleries, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; and the Stedelijk Museum, The Netherlands. Indiana has lived and worked in Vinalhaven, Maine, since 1978.