A portrait of the artist Robert Indiana
Robert Indiana, born in New Castle, Indiana in 1928, was an American painter, sculptor, and graphic artist. From 1949 to 1953 he attended the School of the Art Institute, Chicago and completed his BFA requirements at the University of Edinburgh while on a travel fellowship. In 1956, two years after moving to New York, Indiana met Ellsworth Kelly and joined a community of artists in Coenties Slip, Manhattan, that included Agnes Martin, James Rosenquist, and Jack Youngerman, among others. The environment of the Slip had a profound impact on Indiana’s work, and his early paintings of hard edge ginko leaves were inspired by the trees which grew near his residence. Indiana was soon featured in influential New York shows such as New Media—New Forms at the Martha Jackson Gallery (1960), Art of Assemblage at the Museum of Modern Art (1961), and the International Exhibition of the New Realists at the Sidney Janis Gallery (1962). In 1961, the Museum of Modern Art acquired The American Dream, I (1960–61), establishing Indiana as one of the most significant members of a new generation of artists. In 1964 Indiana creating a 20-foot EAT sign for the New York State Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, and collaborated with Andy Warhol on the film Eat , a silent portrait of Indiana eating a mushroom in his Coenties Slip studio. His first European solo exhibition took place in 1966 at Galerie Schmela in Düsseldorf, Germany, and featured his Number paintings. 1966 also marked a turning point in Indiana’s career with the success of his LOVE image, which had been featured in a solo exhibition at the Stable Gallery. LOVE was selected by the Museum of Modern Art in 1965 for its Christmas card and appeared on 1973 United States Postal Service stamps. In addition to being a painter and sculptor, Indiana created a significant number of prints, among them the Numbers Portfolio (1968), a collaboration with the poet Robert Creeley, the poster for the opening of the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center (1964), and the poster for the opening exhibition of the Hirshhorn Museum of Art (1974). In 1978, Indiana moved to the remote island of Vinalhaven in Maine, where he remained until his death in 2018. Indiana’s works are in the permanent collections of 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; the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire; the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany; the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands; the Museum Ludwig in Vienna, Austria; the Art Museum of Ontario in Toronto; and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. In 2013 the Whitney Museum of American Art hosted the artist’s first New York retrospective, Robert Indiana: Beyond LOVE.