Create Your Autoportrait

Obscured beneath the simple words, numbers, shapes, and colors found in much of Robert Indiana’s work are essential memories and symbols of the artist’s life. Indiana’s visual vocabulary is encrypted with personal symbolism. This is particularly evident in his long series of Autoportraits.

Robert Indiana (American, b. 1928), Decade: Autoportrait 1961, 2001
Collection of Morgan Art Foundation, courtesy of Marc Salama-Caro
© 2014 Morgan Art Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

For example in Decade: Autoportrait 1961, each element represents an aspect of Robert Indiana’s life in 1961. To briefly decode it for you:

  • The circle = eternal life
  • Inside the circle is a decagon to represent the decade
  • The large red 1 in the background represents Indiana himself
  • The star represents America
  • The white 1 in the center indicates 1961
  • The words represent places, people and events

These basic elements are a bit easier to see in this breakdown:

  • The circle is gray
  • The decagon is red
  • The large 1 in the background is yellow
  • The star is green

We want to see YOUR Autoportrait!

Visit imamuseum.org/autoportrait to create your own Robert Indiana-inspired Autoportrait. The elements in Create Your Autoportrait already include the circle, decagon, star and number 1. You will add one single digit number and two numbers with up to three digits, three words (up to 12 characters) representing a person, place or hobby, and three colors. When you are finished, you can email your Autoportrait to friends and family. And be sure to share it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the tag #IMAIndiana.

Please note: imamuseum.org/autoportrait works best in current versions of Chrome, Safari and Firefox on OSX, and current versions of Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer 9-11 on Windows.