Robert Indiana - Numbers Reflected

Robert Indiana (born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana in 1928) would become one of the central figures of the Pop Art movement. Indiana takes his inspiration from commercial signs, claiming: “There are more signs than trees in America. There are more signs than leaves. So I think of myself as a painter of American landscape.”

But in his early years Indiana didn’t paint numbers or create ‘Love’ sculptures. In fact, he was an American Realist. It wasn’t until he met Ellsworth Kelly that he began his foray into what we now call Pop Art. At Kelly’s urging, Indiana took up residence with a community of artists that included Agnes Martin, James Rosenquist, and many others. His artwork would never be the same.

Regardless of subject matter or style, Indiana considers his work primarily autobiographical. In the work on offer here, The Ten Stages: Number Sculptures Reflected, the artists stated that his “… involvement with numbers started with my mother, and her insistence on moving from house to house in Indiana. Before I was 17 years old I had lived in 21 different houses.” (from the documentary A Visit to the Star of Hope: Conversations with Robert Indiana”).

The large Numbers sculptures we are all familiar with (currently in the permanent collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art) were originally commissioned as part of the 20th anniversary celebration of Simon Property Group and were subsequently displayed all over the city. They were donated to the IMA in 1988. The print here is also in the permanent collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art and remains a signature piece of not only Pop Art, but Indiana history.

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