Robert Indiana (b.1928, New Castle, Indiana; d.2018, Vinalhaven, Maine), American painter, printmaker and sculptor, is best known for his LOVE series from the 1960s. Born Robert Clark, Indiana adopted the name of the state in which he grew up. In his work, Indiana adapts the iconography of road signs, advertising posters and logos to create his Pop art icons. Inspired by poetry as much as art, Indiana turns words into objects in a bid to simultaneously celebrate and question the American Dream and other such myths. Robert Indiana studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, before moving to New York in 1954.
Indiana came to prominence in 1961, when the Museum of Modern Art in New York included him in its important Art of Assemblage exhibition of 1961. The following year Indiana had his first solo exhibition at the Stable Gallery, New York. Throughout the 1960s Indiana addressed issues of love and death through his sharp- edged, high-contrast art which deployed text both formally and linguistically. Indiana was also interested in the formal beauty and symbolic power of cardinal numbers. During both the Vietnam War and the Iraq War, Indiana made a series of works inspired by the idiom of peace protests. Disillusioned with the New York art world, Indiana moved to the remote island of Vinalhaven, Maine, in 1978.
In 1966 Indiana’s ‘LOVE’ show opened at the Stable Gallery. The same year saw exhibitions in the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld and the Württembergische Kunstverein, Stuttgart. He was represented at the Documenta, Kassel, (1968). In 1998 a retrospective exhibition opened at the Musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain, Nice, and further solo exhibitions were held at the Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York (2003, 2004). The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, held a major retrospective entitled Beyond LOVE from 2013–14. In 2015 ‘AMOR’ was exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in celebration of Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia, and was permanently installed in Philadelphia’s Sister Cities Park in December 2016. More recently Robert Indiana was celebrated through several retrospectives: Robert Indiana: A Sculpture Retrospective, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York (2018); Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa (2018); Robert Indiana: A Legacy of Love, McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas (2020–2021); Robert Indiana: Sculpture 1958-2018, Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2022).
His distinctive sculptures belong to many public and private collections and have been exhibited worldwide, including Albright-Knox Gallery of Art, Buffalo, New York; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, France; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; Shanghai Art Museum; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Tate Modern, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.