1928 – 2018
Robert Indiana has explored the power of language, American identity, and personal history for five decades. Although his imagery, suggestive of highway signs and roadside attractions, is visually dazzling on its surface and seems to reflect a spirit of optimism, it contains a multilayered conceptual intricacy and darkness that draw on his own biography as well as on the myths, history, and literature of the United States.
A seminal figure of the 1960s and 1970s, Indiana’s artistic genius combined Pop art, hard-edged abstraction, and language-based conceptualism, laying the groundwork for contemporary, text-based art.
More than any other artist of his generation, Indiana identified himself as an American. To this end, he worked in what he felt was a quintessentially American style—hard-edge and polychromatic—and allied himself with American writers and painters from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Indiana’s extensive career reveals an artist who has harnessed simple words and the graphic immediacy of vernacular signage to explore fundamental issues facing humanity—love, death, sin, and forgiveness—that are still relevant today. Seen together, his works validate his claim: “I haven’t done a painting without a message.”