Born 1928 in New Castle, Indiana
Died 2018 in Vinalhaven, Maine
Robert Indiana, a major figure of post-war American art, drew subject matter from the visual vernacular of highway road signs, factory die-cut stencils, and commercial logos while incorporating the cultural heritage of American Modernists such as Charles Demuth and Marsden Hartley.
After finishing high school, Robert Indiana (born Robert Clark) served for three years in the Air Force and then attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1953, scholarships took him to the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine and then on to Scotland, to the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh College of Art, where his activities included studying botany and writing poetry, which he set in type and printed by hand. He returned to the United States in late 1954 and found a job in an art supplies store on West 57th Street, near the Art Students League. There he met and made friends with the young Ellsworth Kelly, who in 1956 found him an inexpensive downtown studio at 31 Coenties Slip, a former shipping warehouse near the Brooklyn Bridge.
The first major break in his career came when The Museum of Modern Art included this work in its 1961 exhibition, "Art of Assemblage." The second break came the following year, when The Museum of Modern Art purchased his 1961 painting “The American Dream #1.” That same year, Indiana had his first solo show, at the Stable Gallery.
His canonical sculptures belong to many public and private collections and have been exhibited worldwide. In the fall of 2013, The Whitney Museum of American Art presented a major retrospective of Indiana's work.
Image: Robert Indiana, “LOVE WALL,” 1966 – 2006, Cor-ten steel, 144 x 144 x 48 inches, 366 x 366 x 122 cm. Installation view at Paul Kasmin Gallery 2018 © 2018 Morgan Art Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Christopher Stach