COLUMN EAT/HUG/DIE, 1963-1964

Gesso on wood
78 x 13.25 x 13.25 in.
(198.1 x 33.6 x 33.6 cm.)

Robert Indiana: . . . My painting is cerebral . . . It’s about as unemotional as any painting can get.

Arthur Carr: But is that true when you think of words such as “Eat” or “Die” which just by the inflection with which one reads them – “Die” or “Die” – become emotionally laden terms?

Indiana: I think that’s so dependent on the, upon the individual reaction of the viewer, Arthur. After all, the word, “Die,” or “Eat,” leaves quite a latitude of reaction. People react very, very differently and that’s rather a complicated situation. That isn’t like painting a luscious still life where one could want to eat it or painting a gruesome scene where death, like a crucifixion, where death is obviously the theme. Although “Die” and “Eat” seem very definite judging from the reactions of people that I know, people are very confused and a little bewildered by those words.

[ . . . ]

Indiana: . . . But they were done unemotionally on my part. I was not intending “Die” or “Eat” as a command. That is not – this is not my intention. They are the briefest of two – in word forms – they are the briefest forms of two thoughts that I wish to deal with. It could have been “Life” and “Death,” but “Eat” and “Die” are more brief and one of the problems in my paintings, and particularly from the emblematic standpoint, I must always find the, that which is less or that which is least in length, and in bulk and in everything else. So, therefore “Eat” and “Die” is a reduction to the absolute minimum of an idea. Certainly never intended in my mind as commands. The same is, the same was “Hug” and “Err,” although they might suggest the same thing. With “Hug” I’m talking about love and with “Err” I’m talking about mortality. I’m not saying, “Go out, go out and sin.”

 

Excerpt from The Reminiscences of Robert Indiana, 1965, interview with Robert Indiana by Arthur Carr

Medium

Decade

View

Clear Filters
UNTITLED

UNTITLED

1945
UNTITLED

UNTITLED

1945
UNTITLED

UNTITLED

1945
UNTITLED

UNTITLED

1945
TECH

TECH

1945
500

500

1945
BEAN BUD

BEAN BUD

1945
MENE MENE TEKEL

MENE MENE TEKEL

1955-56/1989
GINKGO

GINKGO

1957/1959
HUB

HUB

1957/2005
SOURCE I

SOURCE I

1959
THE SLIPS

THE SLIPS

1959-1960
RA

RA

1960
ZIG

ZIG

1960
SOUL

SOUL

1960
OWL

OWL

1960
ORB

ORB

1960
MOON

MOON

1960
M

M

1960
HOLE

HOLE

1960
GE

GE

1960
WALL OF CHINA

WALL OF CHINA

1960 - 1961
ELECTI

ELECTI

1960-1961
MARINE WORKS

MARINE WORKS

1960-1962
MATE

MATE

1960-1962
TWO

TWO

1960-1962
JEANNE D'ARC

JEANNE D'ARC

1960-1962
BAR

BAR

1960-1962
LAW

LAW

1960-1962
STAR

STAR

1960-1962
CUBA

CUBA

1960-1962
MELVILLE

MELVILLE

1961
BALLYHOO

BALLYHOO

1961
HARDROCK

HARDROCK

1961
WOMB

WOMB

1961
SLIP

SLIP

1961
GEM

GEM

1961/1984
DOWN

DOWN

1962
UP

UP

1962
GRASS

GRASS

1962
FOR

FOR

1962
EAT/DIE

EAT/DIE

1962
HUG

HUG

1962
HUB

HUB

1962
FOUR

FOUR

1962
EAT

EAT

1962
CHIEF

CHIEF

1962
AHAB

AHAB

1962
DIE

DIE

1962/1984
X-5

X-5

1963
COLUMN LOVE

COLUMN LOVE

1963-1964
COLUMN HUG

COLUMN HUG

1963-1964
COLUMN EAT

COLUMN EAT

1963-1964
FLAGELLANT

FLAGELLANT

1963/1969
LOVE

LOVE

1964
LOVE

LOVE

1964
ONE

ONE

1965
TWO

TWO

1965
THREE

THREE

1965
FOUR

FOUR

1965
FIVE

FIVE

1965
SIX

SIX

1965
SEVEN

SEVEN

1965
EIGHT

EIGHT

1965
NINE

NINE

1965
ZERO

ZERO

1965
MODEL T

MODEL T

1966
LOVE

LOVE

1966
666

666

1966
LOVE

LOVE

1966-1999
LOVE WALL

LOVE WALL

1966/2006
LOVE

LOVE

1967
APOGEE

APOGEE

1970
ART

ART

1972-2001
AHAVA

AHAVA

1977
MONARCHY

MONARCHY

1981
FIVE

FIVE

1984
MARS

MARS

1990
ICARUS

ICARUS

1992
EVE

EVE

1997
AMOR

AMOR

1998-2006
COMET

COMET

2000