September 13, 2018
Artist Robert Indiana would have turned 90 today.
“My goal is that LOVE should cover the world” – Robert Indiana.
Who was Robert Indiana?
Robert Indiana was an American artist, greatly recognized for his hard-edge painting, bold colors, and popular imagery, which quickly made him a member of the Pop art culture. Specifically best known for his iconic LOVE & HOPE series, HARTLEY ELEGIES series, NUMBERS & LETTERS series, among many other creations reproduced in various formats and languages, ranging from large public and non-public sculptures, paintings, to postage stamps.
Robert Indiana was born on September 13, 1928. He was adopted as an infant and grew up in and around Indianapolis in a financially unstable environment. When Indiana was nine, his parents divorced and his mother went to work as a waitress. His mother was a free spirited woman who frequently moved; by age seventeen, Indiana had lived in twenty-one different locations. “I’ve always been fascinated by numbers. Before I was seventeen years old, I had lived in twenty-one different houses. In my mind, each of those houses had a number.” – the artist said.
Early Interest in Art
Indiana’s early interest in art started after his first grade teacher spotted his natural gift and thrilled him when she asked him to keep a few of his drawings because she knew he would be a famous artist one day. Forty years later, Indiana visited this teacher who showed him the saved drawings; he then signed them again, but this time, as the famous artist she once told him he will be.
After graduating from high school, Indiana enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, intending to fund his college studies through the G.I. Bill. In 1949, with his service completed, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago. He also studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine and the Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland before earning his Bachelor in Fine Arts in 1954.
In 1958, four years after Robert graduated, he changed his last name from Clark to Indiana, taking the “nom de brush” of his home state, acknowledging his roots in the American Midwest.
Accomplishments and Signature Art Style
Indiana liked exploring the American experience using everyday objects, language, and commercially inspired graphic designs. As a contemporary artist, he combined these with traditional elements of fine art, in this way, enhancing the viewer’s daily experience and folding it into a history of art and American identity.
One indication of his success was the appearance of his immensely popular multi-colored “LOVE” on a United States postage stamp on Valentine’s Day of February 14, 1973.
Indiana quickly gained recognition as one of the most creative artists of his time. He was featured on influential New York shows such as New Forms – New Media at the Martha Jackson Gallery (1960), Art of Assemblage at the Museum of Modern Art (1961), and The New Realists at the Sidney Janis Gallery (1962). In 1961, the Museum of Modern Art acquired The American Dream, I (1961), the first in a series of paintings exploring the illusory American Dream, establishing Indiana as one of the most significant members of the new generation of Pop artists. His artwork has been also featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world.
His signature art style mainly consisted in creations and exhibitions that often displayed strong cultural statements about life and political issues.
He liked expressing the essence of his beliefs on important topics meaningfully and simplistically. Among many other political related artwork, Indiana painted Jimmy Carter, the 39th US President (1977-1981) at the time of his presidency, showing support, as well as the distinguished piece titled “HOPE” in the style of his “LOVE”, as Barack Obama ran for US president in 2008. The ladder was created in honor of the candidate and his message of change. The lettering was widely marketed and earned more than a million dollars for Obama’s campaign. “I wanted to help him.” – Indiana said of the work.
On May 18, 2018, a company that had worked with Indiana for years filed a lawsuit against the artist’s caretaker/art dealer who handled all of his affairs. The next day, Indiana died at his home in Vinalhaven, Maine, of respiratory failure at the age of 89. His will leaves most of his art and property to his nonprofit whose mission is to develop his home into a museum featuring his works. The two people Indiana named to manage his Star of Hope organization are his caretaker/art dealer and lawyer. The document did not contain a detailed list of assets that Mr. Indiana, who had no immediate family as survivors, left behind. However, the court filing fee for the will, which is based on the value of the estate, indicated it was worth about $60 million.
From living in twenty one different locations by age 17 to a successful international career in the art industry, Robert Indiana’s passion for painting mixed with his authentic positive outlook in life allowed him to create iconic pieces during his lifetime and to attained world-class recognition in the world of fine art.
Today, Indiana’s works are in the permanent collections of important museums such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C., the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany, the Stedelijk van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, Netherlands, the Museum Ludwig in Vienna, Austria, the Shanghai Art Museum in China, and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
GALLERY ART, a premier fine art gallery, carries historic pieces of Pop Artist Robert Indiana. We work with collectors worldwide to ensure a balanced portfolio. Start your collection of Indiana’s works here.
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Sources: Biography.com, Biography: “Robert Indiana”; Britannica.com, Biography: “Robert Indiana”; GallArt.com, Artist: “Robert Indiana”; Murray Carpenter (May 25, 2018), New York Times:“Robert Indiana, Artist at the Center of Legal Fight, Left a Estate Worth $28 Million”; TheArtStory.org, Artists: “Robert Indiana”; David Sharp, (Sept. 12, 2018), U.S. News: “Untangling Pop Artist Robert Indiana’s Estate May Take Years”.