Chronology

1928

September 13. Robert Earl Clark is born in New Castle, Indiana; soon thereafter, he is taken to Richmond, Indiana, to live with caretakers until his adoption by Earl Clark and Carmen Watters Clark, who reside in Indianapolis where Earl works as an executive for the Western Oil Refining Company. Owing to what Indiana would later call his mother's "wanderlust," the family moves repeatedly; Indiana later says he lived in twenty-one houses before he was seventeen.

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
Earl and Carmen Clark with the family automobile, ca. 1930.
PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1929

Shell Oil purchases Western Oil. A few year later, Earl loses his job, and the family is forced to abandon their home and move to a dilapidated farmhouse in the country. Earl finds work pumping gas at a filling station.

1933

Earl secures an administrative job at Phillips Petroleum Company, where he works for the next twelve years. The family moves back to Indianapolis, but they never recover financially.

 

Summer. Robert travels with his parents to the Chicago World’s Fair and, in subsequent summers, to Alabama to visit paternal relatives (1936) and to Fort Worth, Texas, to see the Frontier Centennial Exposition (1937), trips that contribute to his memories of a childhood spent in transit.

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
Robert Clark, age 2-3 years.
PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1934

Fall. Underweight and nearsighted, Robert is deemed too ill to enter first grade. His parents attribute his poor health to fumes from the city’s automotive plants, and the family moves to a farm near the small town of Mooresville, twenty miles southwest of Indianapolis.

1935

September. Enters first grade in Mooresville where recognition of his artistic talent by his teacher, Ruth Coffman, reinforces his decision to become an artist. Halfway through the school year, the family moves into Mooresville proper, into a house on Lockerbie Street.

ARTIST’S COLLECTION.
Hero, childhood drawing, 8 ½ x 10 ¼ in. (21 x 26 cm.), ca. 1936.
ARTIST’S COLLECTION.
1936

September. Skips second grade; family moves three times during the school year, causing Robert to relocate to three different schools.

1937

Family moves to Cumberland, a rural town east of Indianapolis where Robert attends school for four years.

1938

Engaged in a custody dispute, Robert’s maternal aunt, Roberta (Ruby) Watters, murders her mother-in-law in South Bend, Indiana, after accusing her of kidnapping her two young children. Carmen travels to testify on Ruby’s behalf at the trial, which ends in an acquittal based on a defense of temporary insanity. While Carmen is away, Robert lives with his paternal aunt and uncle on their Martinsville farm. Alone in Cumberland, Earl becomes involved with a younger woman, Sylvia.

 

July. Earl leaves Carmen for Sylvia, who becomes his third wife. For the next few years, Robert lives with his mother in Cumberland during the week and sees Earl and his new wife in Indianapolis on weekends; his mother supports herself by working in small restaurants and roadside cafes.

IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
Robert Clark’s childhood home 1937-1940: 1902 North Brazil, Route 11, Indianapolis.
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1940

Carmen marries Foster Dickey, a custodian at the officers club at the Fort Benjamin Harrison Army base in Lawrence.

 

September. Enters Lawrence Junior High; attends the school for two years.

1941

Spring. Wins first prize in the Marion County seventh-grade essay competition for “A Covered Bridge,” a poetic description of a local bridge.

IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
The artist’s mother, Carmen, ca. 1930.
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1942

September. Moves to Indianapolis to live with his father and his new family in order to attend Arsenal Technical High School, known for its strong art department. He does not see his mother for the next three years. To contribute to the family income, he works after-school jobs throughout high school, first delivering poultry and then as a messenger for Western Union. In his junior year, he takes a job as a runner in the advertising department of the Indianapolis Star.

1944

Studies at Arsenal Tech with Sara Bard, an exhibiting watercolorist from Philadelphia, during his last two years in high school.

 

Summer. Attends summer school to partially fulfill his science requirements in order to spend more time in Bard’s class during the school year.

1945

Carmen’s husband loses his job, and they move to Indianapolis. Robert leaves his father’s house and moves in with them in a small bungalow in a predominantly African American part of town.

 

Attends figure-drawing classes on Saturdays at Indianapolis’s John Herron Art Institute on a scholarship from the institute.

1946

June. Graduates from Arsenal Tech: valedictorian, photographer and photo editor of the class yearbook, captain of the honor society (The Tech Legion), staff member of the school newspaper, and recipient of medals in Latin and English. He gifts the Latin department his five medieval-style parchment illustrations of the Second Chapter of Luke from the King James Bible.

 

Receives a Scholastic Art and Writing Award to attend the John Herron Art Institute; chooses instead to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps (which would become the U.S. Air Force the following year) at Camp Atterbury, Edinburgh, Indiana.

 

September. Begins a six-week basic training course at Lackland Air Corps Base, San Antonio, Texas; becomes ill after a few weeks and is reassigned to another unit after recovering.

 

Fall. Takes a ten-week technical training course in typing at Lowry Field, Denver, Colorado.

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
Robert Clark stationed at Hobbs Army Airfield, Hobbs, New Mexico, 1947.
PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1947

Stationed at New Mexico’s Hobbs Army Airfield, an aircraft storage facility since 1945; teaches typing and starts a mimeographed newspaper for the base to replace its previous newspaper, which had been suspended.

1948

May. Sent to Griffiths Air Force Base, Rome, New York, following the decommissioning of the Hobbs airfield; assigned to the Public Information Office while awaiting permanent assignment. Attends an evening class in Russian at the Utica branch of Syracuse University and art classes at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica.

1949

January. Volunteers for assignment to Fort Richardson, Anchorage, Alaska, the only post available outside the contiguous forty-eight states. Stops in Los Angeles en route to see his father, who had moved there with Sylvia before Robert graduated from high school; it is their last visit before Earl’s death in 1965 in Florida. While stationed at Fort Richardson, he edits the base’s newspaper, the Sourdough Sentinel.

 

August. Receives an emergency leave to visit his dying mother, who had been living in Columbus, Indiana, in a house without a kitchen or hot water while running a bakery with her husband. Robert arrives minutes before her death. Finishes his last month of duty at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio; while he is there, his stepfather dies.

 

September. Discharged from the Air Force. Enters the School of the Art Institute of Chicago under the G.I. Bill, majoring in painting and graphics. Active in the Zeta chapter of Delta Phi Delta, a national honor art fraternity. During his four years at the school, he supplements his stipend from the G.I. Bill by working nights taking inventory at Ryerson Steel and later for the Marshall Field & Company department store, and working part time at the Ryerson Library at the Art Institute; spends one summer illustrating the classified section of the phone book published by the R. R. Donnelley Print Company.

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
Robert Clark painting at the Art Institute of Chicago, which he attended from 1949-1953.
PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1952

Fall. Elected president of the Zeta chapter of Delta Phi Delta.

1953

March. Exhibits figurative paintings in a three-person exhibition with Claes Oldenburg and George Yelich at Club St. Elmo, a restaurant on North State Street in Chicago’s Near North neighborhood.

 

Spring. Organizes the annual Art Students Costume Ball, sponsored jointly by Delta Phi Delta and the Art Students League, at Cyrus McCormick’s deserted mansion.

 

June. Wins a cash prize of $1,250 as the recipient of one of the Art Institute’s seven Foreign Travelling Fellowships, along with a scholarship to attend summer classes at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine.

 

Summer. Studies at Skowhegan with Henry Varnum Poor, under whom he completes two frescos: Pilate Washing His Hands and a memorial to soldiers who died in the Korean War. Receives the school’s Fresno Prize for the latter.

 

Fall. Sails on the S.S. United States for England, intending to enroll at Oxford or the University of London to fulfill academic requirements for his bachelor of fine arts; enrolls instead at the University of Edinburgh, where he augments his academic studies by writing poetry, which he illustrates and hand-sets at the Edinburgh College of Art.

 

December. Embarks on a four-week visit to Paris, punctuated by a trip to the cathedrals of northern France and Belgium with three post-graduate American art historians from the University of Chicago, one of whom, Bates Lowry, would later serve as director of the Museum of Modern Art.

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
Robert Clark lying next to his fresco Pilate Washing His Hands, completed at Skowhegan in the summer of 1953.
PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1954

Spring. Takes a month-long trip around Italy.

 

June. Receives, in absentia, his B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

 

Summer. Attends a six-week, nonacademic seminar on English seventeenth- and eighteenth-century art, music, and literature at the University of London on the G.I. Bill.

 

September. Arrives in New York; without funds to return to Chicago, he rents a room in Floral Studios, a seven-story residential hotel at 325 West 56th Street that caters to artists. Concentrates on writing poetry.

COLLECTION OF THE ARTIST.
Tekel (“Brothers” Odd Fellows), (1954-1956/1989), oil, gesso, sand and gold leaf on Homasote, 47.3 x 47.3 in. (120 x 120 cm.).
COLLECTION OF THE ARTIST.
1955

Finds a part-time job selling art supplies at E. H. & A. C. Friedrichs Company on West 57th Street for $20 a week; works there for three years.

 

Summer. Sublets 64th Street loft of Paul Sanasardo, a dancer and former classmate from the Art Institute, while Sanasardo is on tour; executes expressionist portraits of friends.

 

Fall. Moves into studio at 61 Fourth Avenue in Greenwich Village, the center of Abstract Expressionism; executes dark, allegorical heads influenced by Jean Dubuffet.

1956

Mid-June. Meets Ellsworth Kelly.

 

June 30. On Kelly’s recommendation, moves into a cold-water loft on the top floor of 31 Coenties Slip, a three-block-long area on the East River at the southern tip of Manhattan. A few weeks later, Kelly moves into a nearby loft at 35 Coenties Slip. Within the year, the area’s cheap rents attract other artists: Agnes Martin, Lenore Tawney, Ann Wilson, fashion designer John Kloss, and Jack Youngerman along with his wife, Delphine Seyrig, and their son, Duncan. In 1960, James Rosenquist and Charles Hinman move to the area.

 

Fall. Cy Twombly uses Indiana’s loft during the day to prepare for his upcoming show at the Stable Gallery; he leaves several canvases behind, covering their still-wet surfaces with newspaper. Indiana uses these as the ground for abstract, textured paintings.

PHOTOGRAPH BY HANS NAMUTH/ POSTHUMOUS DIGITAL REPRODUCTION FROM ORIGINAL NEGATIVE/HANS NAMUTH ARCHIVE, CENTER FOR CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY©1991 HANS NAMUTH ESTATE.
Artists on the roof of 3-5 Coenties Slip (left to right: Delphine Seyrig, Duncan Youngerman, Robert Clark, Ellsworth Kelly, Jack Youngerman, and Agnes Martin), 1958.
PHOTOGRAPH BY HANS NAMUTH/ POSTHUMOUS DIGITAL REPRODUCTION FROM ORIGINAL NEGATIVE/HANS NAMUTH ARCHIVE, CENTER FOR CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY©1991 HANS NAMUTH ESTATE.
1957

Spring. Facing the imminent demolition of his studio building, Indiana relocates to 25 Coenties Slip.

 

Begins oil paintings on paper of a doubled ginkgo leaf in hard-edge style; works on the series for ten months. Due to the paper's impermanency, few survive.

 

Winter. Offers life-drawing classes with Jack Youngerman on the first floor of Youngerman’s building at 27 Coenties Slip under the auspices of the Coenties Slip Workshop; the classes fail due to the inaccessibility of the neighborhood and the inability to adequately heat the space.

1958

January. Takes a part-time secretarial job at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine typing the correspondence of the dean, James A. Pike, and proofing Edward N. West’s The History of the Cross, illustrated by Norman Laliberte.

 

Spring. Pieces together forty-four sheets of paper that he found in his loft and begins work on a nineteen-foot-long painting, Stavrosis (Crucifixion).

 

Fall. Takes over Jack Youngerman’s class teaching art to children in a private house in Scarsdale, a suburb of New York; the following year, he teaches adults.

 

Upon completion of Stavrosis, changes his name to Robert Indiana.

1959

January. Ceases working at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

 

Executes several biomorphic abstractions in three or four colors on Homasote.

 

Begins to paint circles (orbs) and rectangles on raw plywood using white gesso. Soon thereafter, begins a series of hard-edge, polychrome abstractions of orbs on Homasote.

 

November. Starts his first assemblage, Sun and Moon (1959–60), out of rusted metal and discarded wood salvaged from Coenties Slip; several more wall-hanging assemblages follow, after which he begins making freestanding constructions out of wooden beams salvaged from buildings on Coenties Slip being demolished. Indiana calls these sculptures “herms,” after the ancient hermae pillars that marked boundaries and served as milestones in the ancient world, attaching discarded wheels and painting single letters and numbers on them using die-cut, brass stencils found in Lenore Tawneys’s loft.

PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN ARDOIN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
Indiana in his studio at 25 Coenties Slip, 1959.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN ARDOIN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1960

June. Rolf Nelson, a Coenties Slip neighbor and director of the Martha Jackson Gallery, includes Indiana’s herm French Atomic Bomb (1959–60) in the gallery’s New Media—New Forms exhibition; the piece is purchased and later gifted to the Museum of Modern Art.

 

Begins to paint single words of three and four letters in bright colors on his extant and new herms.

 

Makes a single sculpture out of a round wooden column salvaged from Jack Youngerman’s Coenties Slip building, which is being demolished; names the work Duncan’s Column (1960/62) after Youngerman’s son. In 1963, when rectangular wood beams become hard to find, Indiana will begin a second group of sculptures made out of other wooden columns he scavenges from the neighborhood.

 

October. Adds words and phrases to previously abstract, polychromatic orb and ginkgo paintings.

1961

Executes his first single-word paintings; includes one of them, FUN,  along with recent wood constructions in a three-person show with Steve Durkee and Richard Smith, two Coenties Slip neighbors, at Paul Sanasardo’s dance studio in March.

 

May. Exhibits herms and six paintings in a two-artist exhibition with Peter Forakis at the David Anderson Gallery; after the show closes, Alfred Barr, director of the Museum of Modern Art, purchases The American Dream, I (1961) for the museum’s permanent collection, launching Indiana’s career.

 

July. Begins a series of paintings incorporating lines of texts from American writers Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

 

October–November. The Museum of Modern Art includes Indiana’s herm Moon (1960) in its exhibition The Art of Assemblage; the work is acquired by the museum out of its Philip Johnson Fund.

 

December. The Museum of Modern Art includes American Dream, I in its exhibition Recent Acquisitions: Painting and Sculpture; the work is prominently featured in press accounts of the show.

"I've been writing all my life. When I was in high school I was a journalism major, I had my own newspaper - the largest newspaper in Alaska - I've always been involved with words, a perfectly natural flow for that to happen."

1962

October. Eleanor Ward holds Indiana’s first solo exhibition at her Stable Gallery. That same month at his eponymous gallery, Sidney Janis includes The Black American Dream # 2 (1962) in his New Realists exhibition, which announces the arrival of Pop art as a movement; over the next several years, Indiana exhibits in most of the major Pop art exhibitions.

 

Indiana donates Yield Brother (1962) to the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation in support of its antinuclear program, the first in a series of donations to the foundation.

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
Robert Indiana’s Black American Dream # 2 (1962) installed at the Sidney Janis Gallery for the exhibition New Realists (1962).
PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1963

Designs costumes for James Waring’s experimental dance “At the Hallelujah Gardens,” performed by Fred Herko at the Hunter Playhouse, Hunter College, New York, on February 3.

 

May. The Museum of Modern Art devotes an entire room to Indiana’s work in its exhibition Americans 1963, further solidifying his reputation.

 

October. The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, becomes the first museum to present a full survey of Indiana’s work, in a two-person show with Richard Stankiewicz; the show travels to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

 

December. Exhibits for the first time in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s annual exhibition of contemporary American painting.

1964

Collaborates with Andy Warhol on Eat, a thirty-five-minute film of Indiana eating a single mushroom. Warhol’s decision to assemble the film’s rolls nonsequentially makes the action mysterious, as if the mushroom magically renews itself from time to time.

 

Donates The Black Yield (1963) to CORE (Congress on Racial Equality); donations of two other paintings follow in 1965 and 1966.

 

The Albert A. List Foundation commissions Indiana to design a poster for the April 23 opening of the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center.

 

April–October. Exhibits EAT (1964), a twenty-foot-square electric sign commissioned by Phillip Johnson for the curved facade of the Theaterama, one of the three components of the New York State Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair. Nine other artists, including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and James Rosenquist, exhibit works on the pavilion’s curved facade as well. The installation marks a major moment in the public reception of Pop art.

 

May 12. The Stable Gallery opens its second solo Indiana exhibition on Mother’s Day with a concert of Virgil Thomson’s music; the show features Mother and Father (1963-66).

PHOTOGRAPH BY BRUCE DAVIDSON. © BRUCE DAVIDSON/MAGNUM PHOTOS, REPRODUCED COURTESY OF MAGNUM PHOTOS, NEW YORK.
Indiana and Andy Warhol in Warhol’s loft, 1964.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRUCE DAVIDSON. © BRUCE DAVIDSON/MAGNUM PHOTOS, REPRODUCED COURTESY OF MAGNUM PHOTOS, NEW YORK.
1965

Virgil Thomson commissions Indiana to design the sets and costumes for the UCLA Opera Workshop production of The Mother of Us All, scheduled to open May 13 in Schoenberg Hall, University of California, Los Angeles; time constraints prevent Indiana from making more than preliminary sketches.

 

February. The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., devotes an entire room to Indiana’s paintings in its biennial survey of contemporary American painting.

 

June. Rolf Nelson opens Indiana’s first exhibition on the West Coast in his eponymous Los Angeles gallery.

 

Faced with the impending demolition of 25 Coenties Slip, Indiana moves his studio to a former luggage factory on the corner of Spring Street and the Bowery; begins his Confederacy painting series commenting on racial injustice in the South.

 

Summer. The Museum of Modern Art commissions Indiana to design its Christmas card. He submits LOVE in four color possibilities; the museum selects the red, blue, and green version.

 

Bill Katz becomes Indiana’s studio assistant; he continues to assist Indiana in the studio for more than a decade, initiating and arranging print projects for the artist, including Numbers (1968), with poems by Robert Creeley.

PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIC POLLITZER. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
EAT Sign (1964), flanked by works by Ellsworth Kelly and Robert Rauschenberg on the Circarama, New York State Pavillion, New York World’s Fair 1964.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIC POLLITZER. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1966

March. Galerie Schmela, Düsseldorf, Germany, holds Indiana’s first exhibition in Europe and arranges shows in Holland and elsewhere in Germany; the gallery is instrumental in placing many of the artist's major paintings in European museums.

 

The Center Opera Company commissions Indiana to design the sets, costumes, and poster for its production of The Mother of Us All. Indiana revises the scenario, casting a Model-T Ford as a central scenic motif. Performances take place at the Tyrone Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, from January 27 to February 18, 1967.

 

May. The Stable Gallery opens its third solo Indiana exhibition, featuring the artist’s Cardinal Numbers (1966) and LOVE in different mediums, colors, and configurations, and his twelve-inch aluminum LOVE sculpture, published in an edition of six by Multiples, Inc.  Embraced by the public as an emblem of countercultural freedom, LOVE proliferates on unauthorized commercial products.

"I am an American painter of signs charting the course. I would be a people’s painter as well as a painter’s painter"

1967

February–March. Exhibits in the American section of the IX Bienal, São Paulo, Brazil.

 

April. Installs his Cardinal Numbers as a vertical column fifty feet high for the American Pavilion at Montreal’s Expo ’67.

 

Produces three serigraphs of LOVE—two in editions of 250, and an unsigned edition of 2,275—and two serigraphs of LOVE Wall. During the next two years, produces other serigraph variations on LOVE, with more following in 1972, 1973, 1975, 1982, and 1991.

 

October. Exhibits The Great Love (1966) in the triennial exhibition of international art at the Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh; the museum acquires the piece.

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
The Cardinal Numbers (1966) installed in the exhibition American Painting Now at Expo '67, Montreal.
PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1968

April. The Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, opens Indiana’s first solo museum exhibition; the show travels to the Marion Koogler McNay Art Institute, San Antonio, Texas, and the John Herron Institute of Art, Indianapolis.

 

Edition Domberger and Galerie Schmela publish a portfolio of Indiana’s Numbers; each serigraph is accompanied by a Robert Creeley poem inspired by Indiana’s Numbers paintings of 1965.

 

June. Exhibits fifteen works in Documenta 4 in Kassel, Germany, including The Cardinal Numbers and LOVE WALL (1966).

 

RCA reproduces Imperial LOVE (1966) on the album cover of Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie.

1969

Summer. Visits photographer Eliot Elisofon on Vinalhaven, an island off the coast of Maine. Inspired by Indiana’s enthusiasm for the island’s abandoned hundred-year-old Odd Fellows lodge, the “Star of Hope,” Elisofon purchases the building. For the next nine years, Indiana will rent the top floor for use as a studio every September and October.

 

December. Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine, opens a retrospective of Indiana’s prints and posters; the show travels for two years to museums in the northeast United States and Europe.

1970

Initiates his ART series of paintings and sculpture after making ART posters for the exhibition American Art since 1960 at the Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey, and the opening of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

 

Lippincott Foundry produces a twelve-foot-high Cor-Ten steel LOVEwhich is shown in February in Seven Outside at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Nine months later, the piece travels to Boston for installation in October in the plaza surrounding city hall as part of the exhibition Monumental Sculpture for Public Spaces. Lippincott remains Indiana’s foundry until 1994, when it ceases operation.

 

December. Designs the poster and banner for the exhibition Four Americans in Paris at the Museum of Modern Art.

IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
Poster for American Art Since 1960 (1970), silkscreen, 25 x 25 inches. The Art Museum, Princeton University, New Jersey, Gift of the Department of Art and Archeology.
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1971

Begins Decade: Autoportraits, a series of paintings in three sizes chronicling his life in the 1960s; he finishes the two smaller series by 1972 and the larger series by 1978. The complete series totals thirty paintings.

 

May. Multiples, Inc. publishes Decade, a portfolio of ten serigraphs of Indiana's most significant images; the serigraphs are exhibited simultaneously as Multiples, Inc. in New York and Los Angeles, and in twenty-four other galleries worldwide.

 

November. LOVE travels to New York, where Indiana installs it at the Fifth Avenue and 60th Street entrance to Central Park; the sculpture remains on view for six weeks before returning to the Indianapolis Museum of Art for permanent display.

1972

Designs the cover for Robert Creeley’s A Day Book, published by Scribner, New York.

 

Galerie Denise René, New York, becomes Indiana’s New York dealer; it holds its first Indiana exhibition in November, premiering the first two series of Decade: Autoportraits along with a twenty-foot LOVE painting and several LOVE and ART sculptures.

PHOTOGRAPH BY HANS NAMUTH/ POSTHUMOUS DIGITAL REPRODUCTION FROM ORIGINAL NEGATIVE/HANS NAMUTH ARCHIVE, CENTER FOR CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY©1991 HANS NAMUTH ESTATE.
Installation view of Indiana’s exhibition at the Galerie Denise René in New York, 1972.
PHOTOGRAPH BY HANS NAMUTH/ POSTHUMOUS DIGITAL REPRODUCTION FROM ORIGINAL NEGATIVE/HANS NAMUTH ARCHIVE, CENTER FOR CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY©1991 HANS NAMUTH ESTATE.
1973

February 14. The U.S. Postal Service issues an eight-cent LOVE stamp designed by Indiana; 330 million stamps are produced, for which the artist receives a flat fee of a thousand dollars.

 

John Huszar produces Robert Indiana: Portrait, a documentary film about the artist.

1974

Designs poster for the opening of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

PHOTO COURTESY PORTLAND MUSEUM OF ART, MAINE.
LOVE stamp, commemorative eight-cent postage stamp commissioned by the U.S Postal Service in 1973 and 1974.
PHOTO COURTESY PORTLAND MUSEUM OF ART, MAINE.
1975

December. Galerie Denise René publishes a portfolio of seven serigraphs, based loosely on Indiana’s Polygon paintings of 1962; the gallery premiers them in May of the following year along with the paintings.

1976

The Santa Fe Opera Company commissions Indiana to design the sets and costumes for a fully staged production of The Mother of Us All as part of the company’s twentieth anniversary; the opera is presented on August 7, 11, 20, and 25.

 

The State University of New York, Purchase, acquires and permanently installs one of Indiana’s seven-foot-high red/blue ART sculptures on its campus.

 

Designs two serigraphs, Liberty 76 and The Golden Future of America, for American bicentennial portfolios published by Lorillard and Transworld Art, respectively.

 

September. Installs a six-foot-high red/purple LOVE on the John F. Kennedy Plaza, Philadelphia, as part of the city’s bicentennial celebration.

 

Summer. In response to a poster commission from the Democratic National Committee, Indiana designs Vote; in recognition of the artist’s contribution to Jimmy Carter’s election as thirty-ninth president of the United States, Indiana is invited to, and attends, the presidential inauguration in January 1977.

 

November. Indiana purchases the Star of Hope from the Elisofon estate.

1977

September. University Art Museum, University of Texas, Austin, opens a retrospective of Indiana’s work; the show travels to museums in Norfolk, Virginia; Purchase, New York; Indianapolis; and South Bend, Indiana.

 

October. Installs his twelve-foot-high Cor-Ten steel AHAVA (the Hebrew word for "love"), produced by Lippincott Foundry, at the Fifth Avenue and 60th Street entrance of New York’s Central Park before sending it to the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, for permanent display.

 

Commissioned to design the floor of the MECCA Arena’s basketball court, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
Indiana with the sets from The Mother of Us All.
PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1978

Loses lease on his Spring Street studio; moves permanently to Vinalhaven. Over the next ten years, Indiana restores the Star of Hope; it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

1980

The Indianapolis Museum of Art commissions the artist's monumental Numbers, becoming the largest institutional repository of Indiana's outdoor work.

 

Multiples Inc. publishes Decade: Autoportraits, Vinalhaven Suite, a portfolio of ten serigraphs created by Indiana commemorating the events, places, and people of importance to him in the 1970s.

1981

Rents sail loft across from the Star of Hope to use as a sculpture studio; begins making a new series of herms out of driftwood he finds on Vinalhaven.

1982

July. The Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine, across the Penobscot Bay from Vinalhaven, opens Indiana’s Indianas, a twenty-year survey of work that Indiana has retained in his own collection; the show travels to five museums in Maine, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.

PHOTOGRAPH BY TAD BECK.© TAD BECK. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
Indiana sitting behind his forehanded chessboard in front of the wall of Ellsworth Kelly’s portraits of the Artist (completed in the late 1950s), 1988.
PHOTOGRAPH BY TAD BECK.© TAD BECK. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1984

May. The National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C., opens Wood Works, the first exhibition to survey Indiana’s wood constructions; the show travels to the Portland Museum of Art, Maine.

1985

February. Indiana’s work is included in Pop Art, 1955–1970, one of the first of many reexaminations of Pop art to take place over the next ten years that feature his art; sponsored by the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art, the show opens at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, and travels to Melbourne and Brisbane.

1988

Salama-Caro Gallery, London, arranges to have eight of Indiana’s early wood herms cast in bronze, each in an edition of eight, at Empire Bronze Art Foundry, Long Island City, New York.

1989

Begins his series of paintings Hartley Elegies, inspired by the German Officer paintings of Marsden Hartley, who lived on Vinalhaven in the summer of 1938 in a house near the former grocery store Indiana rents for storage; Indiana works on the series, which ultimately comprises eighteen elegies, through 1994.

1990

Park Granada Editions publishes five serigraphs based on Indiana’s Hartley Elegies; five more follow in a diamond format in 1991. Harry N. Abrams publishes Robert Indiana by Carl Weinhardt, Jr., the first hardcover monograph on the artist.

 

Late November–December. Marisa del Re Gallery becomes Indiana's New York dealer, showcasing his Decade: Autoportraits in an exhibition and commissioning two monumental sculptures over the next two years, a twelve-foot high red/blue LOVE and a twelve-foot-high red/blue ART, which are shown in sculpture biennales in Monte Carlo, Monaco, in 1991 and 1993, respectively.

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
The artist standing in front of his 12 ft. ART sculpture at the IIIème Biennale de Sculpture Monte Carlo, 1993.
PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1991

May. Susan Sheehan Gallery, New York, holds a solo exhibition of Indiana’s prints in conjunction with the gallery’s publication of a catalogue raisonné of Indiana’s prints.

 

September. The Salama-Caro Gallery, London, opens its first exhibition of Indiana’s art with a show devoted to the artist’s early herms and paintings, and examples of bronze versions of his herms.

 

The Royal Academy of Arts, London, includes Indiana’s work in its international survey Pop Art; the show travels to the Museum Ludwig, Cologne; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

1992

Susan Elizabeth Ryan completes the first Ph.D. dissertation on Robert Indiana at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Yale University Press publishes it as Robert Indiana: Figures of Speech in 2000.

IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
LOVE (1966-1993), polychrome aluminum, 144 x 144 x 72 in. (366 x 366 x 182 cm.) Shinjuku-I-Land Project, Tokyo, Japan.
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1993

One of Indiana’s twelve-foot-high red/blue/green LOVE sculptures is acquired and permanently installed in front of the I-Land Tower in Tokyo’s central business district, known as the Nishi-Shinjuku.

 

Lippincott produces a twelve-foot-high blue/green LOVE for permanent installation in front of Winsland House II, the headquarters of Wing Tai Holdings Limited, Singapore. It is the last Indiana sculpture the foundry produces before it closes.

1995

April. The Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, opens an exhibition of Marsden Hartley’s German Officer paintings and Indiana’s Hartley Elegies; the show travels to the Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago; the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University, Miami; and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where only the Hartley Elegies are exhibited.

 

Simon Salama-Caro becomes Indiana’s primary agent, organizing a program of gallery exhibitions and introducing Indiana to the Morgan Art Foundation, which assists the artist in completing sculpture editions that were started in the 1960s. Three years later, Salama-Caro will begin a project to catalogue all of Indiana’s painting and sculpture.

1997

American Image Editions publishes ROBERT INDIANA: The Book of Love, a limited edition of twelve of Indiana’s LOVE images and LOVE-related poems.

 

Indiana installs his monumental white/red NUMBER 7 in Monte Carlo for the 700th anniversary of the Grimaldi family's rule of Monaco.

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
Installation view from the exhibition Robert Indiana: Rétrospective, 1958-1998 at the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice, France, 1998.
PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
1998

June. Indiana’s first museum retrospective in Europe opens at the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice, with the installation of a twelve-foot-high red/blue/green LOVE in the esplanade outside the museum. At the opening, Indiana is awarded Citoyen d’honor (honorary citizen of Nice) by the mayor.

 

Fall. Milgo/Bufkin produces Indiana’s first AMOR sculpture. The foundry becomes Indiana’s sculpture atelier.

 

The American Dream, a limited-edition book of thirty Indiana serigraphs with poems by Robert Creeley, is published by Marco Fine Arts Contemporary Atelier.

1999

June. The Portland Museum of Art, Maine, opens a retrospective of Indiana’s art; the show travels to the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, Georgia.

COLLECTION OF THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART, WASHINGTON, D.C.
AMOR (1998-2006), polychrome aluminum, 96 x 96 x 48 in. (244 x 244 x 122 cm.) Installation Paseo de Recoletos, Madrid, Spain, 2006.
COLLECTION OF THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART, WASHINGTON, D.C.
2000

Milgo/Bufkin produces Indiana’s monumental outdoor sculpture 2000 for the turn of the millennium; the piece is never installed.

 

February. One of Indiana’s twelve-foot-high red/blue LOVE sculptures is installed on Sixth Avenue at 55th Street, New York.

 

PAX (now the Center to Prevent Youth Violence) commissions Indiana to design a poster for its campaign against gun violence; the poster, LOVE 2000, is displayed on the sides of buses and bus kiosks in cities across the United States.

2001

March. The Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, installs a twelve-foot-high red/blue LOVE in its atrium to coincide with its survey of Pop Art.

 

September 11. While in New York, en route to his show of recent Marilyn paintings at Galerie Guy Pieters, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France, Indiana witnesses the destruction of the World Trade Center from his hotel window; he returns immediately to Vinalhaven and paints Afghanistan.

2002

In preparation for his first exhibition in China, Indiana embarks on three series of paintings with Chinese characters, one whose image is ai ("love" in Chinese), the second whose image is ping ("peace" in Chinese), and the third with the image of a doubled ginkgo leaf combined with ai and ping; he continues work on the series through 2002, 2003, and 2006, respectively.

 

April 9. The Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis, installs the artist's fifty-nine-foot-high INDIANA obelisk in its atrium; Indiana governor Frank O’Bannon declares the day “Robert Indiana Day.”

 

July. The Shanghai Art Museum opens Robert Indiana, a retrospective that introduces Indiana’s work to Chinese audiences.

 

Fall. The Scottsdale Art Museum, Arizona, acquires one of Indiana’s twelve-foot-high red/blue LOVE sculptures and places it on permanent loan on the city’s Civic Center Mall.

 

The state of Maine commissions Indiana to paint The First State to Hail the Rising Sun to hang in the state house in Augusta.

PHOTOGRAPH BY ADAM REICH. © ADAM REICH. IMAGE COURTESY OF PAUL KASMIN GALLERY.
TWO (1980-2001), polychrome aluminum, 78 x 74 x 38 in. (198 x 188 x 96 cm.) Installation on Park Avenue, New York, 2003.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ADAM REICH. © ADAM REICH. IMAGE COURTESY OF PAUL KASMIN GALLERY.
2003

February. Indiana’s six-foot-high NUMBERS ONE through ZERO are installed along Park Avenue, New York, from 60th to 70th streets; they subsequently travel to California for installation in front of Beverly Hills City Hall. In conjunction with the New York installation, two simultaneous exhibitions of Indiana’s work are held in the city: at C&M Arts and at Paul Kasmin Gallery. The two galleries become Indiana’s New York dealers, in association with Simon Salama-Caro.

 

Following the American-led invasion of Iraq in March, Indiana begins his series Peace Paintings.

Photograph by Dennis Griggs. Image courtesy of the artist.
The artist in his studio, Vinalhaven, Maine, 2004.
Photograph by Dennis Griggs. Image courtesy of the artist.
2004

April. Paul Kasmin Gallery exhibits fifteen Peace Paintings. Also that month, the Price Tower Arts Center, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, opens a solo exhibition of Indiana’s paintings and sculpture; at the show’s close in July, the center purchases the artist’s twenty-two-foot-long 66 (2004) for its plaza.

 

The Waddington Galleries becomes Indiana’s London dealer; its first exhibition of the artist’s work opens in September.

 

The Taipei Financial Center, Taiwan, commissions a twelve-foot-high red/gold LOVE to be installed in front of its tower, Taipei 101.

2006

May. Indiana’s monumental sculptures LOVE, Imperial LOVE, AMOR, ART, LOVE WALL, and NUMBERS ONE through ZERO are installed outdoors in Madrid between the Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums; the works travel to Valencia and Bilbao, Spain, and Lisbon, Portugal.

 

Rizzoli publishes Robert Indiana¸ with essays by Joachim Pissarro, John Wilmerding, and Robert Pincus-Witten.

2007

Eric Breitbart and MUSE Film and Television produce an hour-long documentary, Robert Indiana: American Dreamer.

 

November. Galerie Gmurzynska, Zurich, begins its association with Indiana by hosting a retrospective of his art.

2008

Summer. Indiana creates a six-foot-high stainless steel HOPE, which is placed outside the Pepsi Center during the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

 

July. The Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan, presents the first solo show of Indiana’s work in Italy, including an outdoor installation of Indiana’s monumental sculptures NUMBERS ONE through ZERO, LOVE, LOVE Wall, Imperial LOVE, and AMOR.

 

September. Paul Kasmin Gallery opens Robert Indiana: Hard Edge, showcasing Indiana’s large-scale metal sculptures and his electric EAT. A twelve-foot-high Cor-Ten steel LOVE Wall is installed at Park Avenue and 57th Street in conjunction with the exhibition.

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
LOVE Wall (1999-2006), Cor-Ten steel, 144 x 144 x 48 in. (366 x 366 x 122 cm.) Installation Paseo de Recoletos, Madrid, Spain, 2006.
PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
2009

June. The Farnsworth Art Museum opens a survey of Indiana’s art, accompanied by a documentary film directed by Dale Schierholt. In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum installs a twelve-foot-high Cor-Ten LOVE Wall on permanent display in its garden and the artist’s twenty-foot electric EAT, in storage since the 1964 New York World’s Fair, on its roof; EAT is reinstalled on the roof every subsequent year during the summer.

2011

Summer. Galerie Gmurszynska, Zurich premieres Indiana's repainted 1959 orb paintings.

"I think everybody reads into 'eat die' - the most common reading. That is that we are a consumer society and everybody knows that we're going to consume ourselves to death with our carbon monoxide and food poisoning and everything else and all those good things."

2012

Hatje Cantz publishes a collection of essays on Indiana’s work in Robert Indiana: New Perspectives.

2013

September. The Whitney Museum of American Art hosts Indiana’s first ever New York retrospective, Robert Indiana: Beyond LOVE.

2014

February. The Essential Indiana opens at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio opens two exhibitions, Robert Indiana: The Mother of Us All, and Robert Indiana’s Hartley Elegies, as a compliment to the retrospective Robert Indiana: Beyond LOVE.

2015

September. In celebration of Pope Francis’s visit to Philadelphia, Robert Indiana’s AMOR is exhibited on the East Terrace of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, overlooking the celebration of the papal mass on Sunday, September 27. The sculpture is permanently installed in Philadelphia’s Sister Cities Park at 18th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in December 2016. Craig F. Starr Gallery, New York presents Robert Indiana Sign Paintings 1960-65, a series of small early paintings by the artist.

Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie. Donation of the Morgan Art Foundation to the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie in 2015.
Imperial Love, 1966/2006. Hamburger Bahnhof.
Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie. Donation of the Morgan Art Foundation to the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie in 2015.
2016

September. A Cor-Ten Imperial LOVE enters the collection of the Nationalgalerie Berlin and is installed at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart.