Indiana, Robert (John Clark)
born: 1928 New Castle,
"Pop is everything art hasn't been for the last two decades," said Robert Indiana in an interview with G.R. Swenson; "Pop is a re-enlistment in the world." Indiana studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1949 to 1953, then went on to spend a year at the College of Art at the University of Edinburgh. His paintings are brightly colored, with hue set against brilliant hue without contours or transitions. The sharply defined color fields are reminiscent of Hard Edge painting, in which perspective and illusions of depth are dispensed with in an attempt to convey spatial relationships through color contrasts and tensions alone. Indiana paints emblems, letters ofthe alphabet, and numerals. In his first studio, in Manhattan, he found a large stock of copper lettering stencils left behind by a shipping supply company. After initially combining the letters, numerals, and star shapes into assemblages, he later began to transfer them to canvas with brush and paint. In USA 666 (Eat, Die, Err, Hug) II - a picture of which another, 1964 version exists as well - the typography and highly effective, signal-like form and color both stand for themselves and convey a message. According to the artist, the X shape represents a railroadcrossing warning sign, the first "6" alludes to his father's month of birth, and the "66" to the Philipps 66 gasoline company where his father was employed. The bright complementary colors red and green correspond to those of the company's logo at the time. The number 66 alsa alludes to Highway 66, the embodiment of "going West" in many Americans' minds, as well as relating to the black and yellow sign "Use 666," an advertisement for a patent medicine for colds. The word "Eat" appeared on countless roadside diners. USA 666 is one of six paintings in which the artist evokes the "sixth American dream." Indiana's sculptures, such as Zig of 196o, recall northwest Indian totem poles or ancient Greek herms, an association corroborated by the former designation "Zeus" for Zig. The wheels, found on almost all of Indiana's sculptures, are existing objects, objets trouves, integrated into the piece.
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