About the Exhibition

“… by the magic of coincidences.”
– Robert Indiana

Robert Indiana (American, b. 1928), 1963 THE FIGURE FIVE from Decade, 1971
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Museum Purchase through Multiples, Inc., 71.88.4A
© 2014 Morgan Art Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The first print retrospective of Robert Indiana’s powerful graphic work in more than 40 years will premiere in the state whose name he adopted as his own. The Essential Robert Indiana — featuring more than 50 works, including many from the artist’s own collection — is organized with the active participation of the artist and presents Indiana’s autobiographical approach to his work which has never before been explored in depth.

Robert Indiana emerged during the 1960s as a member of the Pop art movement. His vibrantly colored works inspired by road signs were both bold in design and subject. The 53 prints featured in the exhibition include works from his “American Dream” series as well as his homages to such painters as Picasso, Charles Demuth and Marsden Hartley. The exhibition will also include 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.

Featuring 21 “Autoportraits” made by the artist over the course of his career, The Essential Robert Indiana reveals the artist’s use of symbolic forms, colors, and words that relate to events, locations, and people that were significant to the year the Autoportrait represents. Inspired by the works on view, visitors will have a chance to create their own Autoportraits as part of the exhibition experience.

A gallery of portraits of Robert Indiana taken by photographers William John Kennedy, Tom Rummler, and Barbara Goodbody chronicle the artist at work over the past 50 years.

Exhibition Catalogue

This exhibition is accompanied by a 152-page, fully-illustrated monograph that includes an essay by John Wilmerding, a former curator and professor at Princeton. Co-published with Del Monico/Prestel, the catalogue features a series of 1960s portraits of Robert Indiana taken by photographer William John Kennedy, including some images published for the first time. It also features individual decodings of Indiana’s prints by exhibition curator Martin Krause as revealed to him through continuing conversations with the artist.

The exhibition catalog can be purchased in the Museum Store or online for $49.95.

Exhibition Interactives

To help visitors learn about Robert Indiana’s art and the meanings behind the numbers, colors, shapes and words that he uses in his work, the IMA has developed several interactives that visitors can enjoy while in the exhibition.

  • An audio guide (included in the ticket price) contains detailed information about 15 exhibited works of art.
  • Visitors can watch video interviews with Robert Indiana on iPads to learn about his life, influences and the stories behind selected artworks.
  • Monitors in the exhibition show videos about Indiana’s painting and screen printing techniques.
  • After viewing Robert Indiana’s Autoportraits in the exhibition, guests can create their own Autoportraits on iPads in the gallery or by visiting imamuseum.org/autoportrait.
  • The Decode Yourself activity allows visitors to express their personal associations with numbers, colors and shapes.

There’s more to LOVE about Robert Indiana at the IMA!

While you are at the IMA, be sure to check out these related experiences:

Robert Indiana (American, b. 1928), LOVE, 1970
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Gift of the Friends of the Indianapolis Museum of Art in memory of Henry F. DeBoest. Restoration was made possible by Patricia J. and James E. LaCrosse, 75.174
© Morgan Art Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Related Artwork: LOVE
Located outside on the IMA’s Sutphin Mall
Indiana’s first sculptural rendition of his iconic LOVE design was created in 1970. The massive COR-TEN steel work was originally displayed as part of an exhibition celebrating the opening of the IMA’s current building at Michigan Road and 38th Street. LOVE has been on continuous display at the IMA since it was acquired in 1975.

Robert Indiana (American, b. 1928), NUMBERS, 1980-1983
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Gift of Melvin Simon and Associates, 1988.241
© Morgan Art Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Related Artwork: Numbers
Located on the IMA’s Sutphin Mall and throughout the Museum
Indiana’s Numbers are a monumental expression of his fascination with numbers, their forms, and their symbolic meanings. The painted aluminum sculptures are 8 feet tall, each weighing 600 to 1,000 pounds. Indiana has always liked the idea of installing them in different locations around the IMA, and the exhibition The Essential Robert Indiana provides a worthy occasion to do so.

Robert Indiana (American, b. 1928), The Ten Stages NUMBER Sculpture Reflected, 1980
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Pacheo, 1988.276
© Morgan Art Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Related Exhibition: Indiana By the Numbers
Elma D. and Orville A. Wilkinson Gallery, Floor 4
Through May 4, 2014 / Free
Using Indiana’s own drawings and prints as well as archival materials and photographs, Indiana by the Numbers traces the history of the Numbers from an idea in the artist’s mind to their recent restoration and repainting by the IMA conservation department.