Born Robert Clark in Indiana, Robert Indiana took his native state’s name after moving to New York in 1954, a gesture that presaged his Pop-inspired fascination with Americana, signage, and the power of ordinary words. In his studio on Coenties Slip at the tip of Manhattan, Indiana made assemblages of scrap materials and found objects, using stencils to introduce words into his art. By the early 1960s he was creating eye-popping paintings of text, numbers, and symbols that related to the hard-edge abstraction of the day, and included political and social overtones. Later he moved to the island of Vinalhaven off the coast of Maine, where he continues to work.
Indiana studied various printmaking techniques at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, but later settled on screenprinting, a medium that suited his simplified forms and electric colors. In addition, the flexible screens could be easily reused to produce serial variations, a common practice in Indiana’s printmaking. In all, he has completed more than one hundred sixty prints, working with commercial and fine-art workshops worldwide, among them Edition Domberger, near Stuttgart, known for screenprinting, and Vinalhaven Press, near his home, where he created lithographs and etchings.
Few Pop images are more widely recognized than Indiana’s LOVE. Originally designed as a Christmas card commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art in 1965, LOVE has appeared in prints, paintings, sculptures, banners, rings, tapestries, and stamps. Full of erotic, religious, autobiographical, and political underpinnings—especially when it was co-opted as an emblem of 1960s idealism—LOVE is both accessible and complex in meaning. In printed works, Indiana has rendered LOVE in a variety of colors, compositions, and techniques. He even translated it into Hebrew for a print and a sculpture at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Publication excerpt from an essay by Judith Hecker, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 166.