Blue Faces Red Sides
96 x 96 x 48 in. (243.8 x 243.8 x 121.9 cm)
Edition of five plus two artist proofs
"The ‘LOVE Sculpture’ is the culmination of ten years of work based on the original premise that the word is an appropriated and usable element of art, just as Picasso and the Cubists made use of it at the beginning of the century, which evolved inevitably, in both my ‘LOVE’ paintings and sculpture, into the concept that the word is also a fit and viable subject for art.”
One of the preeminent figures in American Art since the 1960s Robert Indiana has played a central role in the development of assemblage art, hard-edge painting and Pop art. A self proclaimed “American painter of signs,” Indiana has created a highly original body of work that explores American identity, personal history and the power of abstraction and language, establishing an important legacy that resonates in the work of many contemporary artists who make the written word a central element of their oeuvre.
Robert Indiana was born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana on September 13, 1928. Adopted as an infant, he spent his childhood moving frequently throughout his namesake state. In 1942, Indiana moved to Indianapolis in order to attend Arsenal Technical High School, known for its strong arts curriculum. After graduating he spent three years in the U.S. Air Force and then studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Skowhegan School of Sculpture and Painting in Maine, and the Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland.
In 1956, two years after moving to New York, Indiana met Ellsworth Kelly, and upon his recommendation took up residence in Coenties Slip, once a major port on the southeast tip of Manhattan. There he joined a community of artists that would come to include Kelly, Agnes Martin, James Rosenquist, and Jack Youngerman. The environment of the Slip had a profound impact on Indiana’s work. In 1958 Indiana changed his name adopting that of his home state.
Indiana, like some of his fellow artists, scavenged the area’s abandoned warehouses for materials, creating sculptural assemblages from old wooden beams, rusted metal wheels, and other remnants of the shipping trade that had thrived in Coenties Slip. The discovery of 19th century brass stencils led to the incorporation of brightly colored numbers and short emotionally charged words into these sculptures as well as canvases, and became the basis of his new painterly vocabulary.
Indiana quickly gained repute as one of the most creative artists of his generation, and was 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), the first in a series of paintings exploring the illusory American Dream, establishing Indiana as one of the most significant members of the new generation of Pop artists who were eclipsing the prominent painters of the New York School.
Although acknowledged as a leader of Pop, Indiana distinguished himself from his Pop peers by addressing important social and political issues and incorporating profound historical and literary references into his works.
1966 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. The word love, a theme central to Indiana’s work, first appeared in the painting 4-Star Love (1961). Indiana created his first LOVE sculpture in 1966 in aluminum. Love was a subject of great spiritual significance for the artist. Initially experimenting with a composition of stacked letters in a series of 1964 rubbings, Indiana subsequently turned his image, a formal departure from his previous works, into different hard-edged color variations on canvas. Indiana’s LOVE, selected by the Museum of Modern Art in 1965 for its Christmas card, quickly permeated wider popular culture, and was adopted as an emblem of the “Love Generation.” Appearing on a best-selling United States Postal Service stamp (1973) and reproduced on countless unauthorized products, the proliferation of the image led, on one hand, to negative criticism and incorrect assumptions of the artist as a sell-out. However, the image’s popularity more importantly emphasizes its great resonance with large and diverse audiences, and has become an icon of modern art. Today, examples of his monumental LOVE sculpture can be found in public and private collections throughout the world.
In 1978, Indiana chose to remove himself from the New York art world. He settled on the remote island of Vinalhaven in Maine, moving into the Star of Hope, a Victorian building that had previously served as an Odd Fellows Lodge. After a period spent setting up his home and new studio, Indiana turned to themes that related to his local experience.
Indiana’s artwork has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world and his works are in the permanent collections of museums such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas, 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 McNay Art Museum in San Antonio; the Milwaukee Art Museum in Wisconsin; the Menil Collection in Houston; the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; the Tate Modern in London, England; the Nationalgalerie in Berlin, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany; the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands; the Museum Ludwig in Vienna, Austria; the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto; and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. He has also been included in numerous international publications, and is the subject of a number of monographs.
LOVE is presented by Ben Brown Fine Arts. In 2004, Ben Brown Fine Arts opened its first location in the heart of Mayfair, London. The gallery quickly established itself on the international art scene with exhibitions of long-term gallery artists Candida Höfer, Tony Bevan, Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne, and Heinz Mack, amongst others. With permanent exhibition spaces in London, Hong Kong and Palm Beach, the galleries regularly exhibit and develop programming for their renowned stable of international, multi-disciplinarian contemporary artists, including Yoan Capote, Rob and Nick Carter, Vik Muniz, José Parlá, Enoc Perez, Hank Willis Thomas, and Gavin Turk.
Ben Brown Fine Arts
12 Brook's Mews
London W1K 4DG
+44 (0)20 7734 888