Robert Indiana

About Artist: American painter, sculptor and printmaker. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago (1949–53), the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine (summer 1953) and Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art (1953–4), before settling in New York in 1954. There in the late 1950s he began assembling wood sculptures from found materials, often stencilling painted words on to them, as in Moon (h. 1.98 m, 1960; New York, MOMA). He called these works Herms after the quadrangular, stone stelae guardian figures that served as signposts in crossroads in ancient Greece and Rome. Indiana called himself a ‘sign painter’ to suggest the humble origins of his artistic activity in the American work ethic and to indicate his fascination with the use of words in signs. Joining his interest in Americana with the formal and signifying elements of signs, he visualized the superficial and illusory American Dream in paintings characterized by flat bright colours and clearly defined contours influenced by the hard-edge paintings by friends such as Ellsworth Kelly and Jack Youngerman (b 1926).

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