HIGH YALLER, 1945

watercolor, gouache and graphite
23.25 x 17.5 in.
(59 x 44.5 cm.)

Signed in ink at the bottom ‘Jo Ellen & The Bus Depot, Robert E. Clark 1945’

Collection of the artist

High Yaller is an example of the figurative work that Robert Indiana, then known as Robert Clark, produced as a high school student. Indiana dreamed of a life in the arts from a young age, and it was the recognition of his artistic talent by a first grade teacher that encouraged his determination to become an artist. In 1942, after completing middle school in a town too small to hire art teachers for its schools, Indiana chose to leave his mother’s home and move to Indianapolis in order to attend Arsenal Technical High School, known for its strong art department. There, a significant influence on him was the Philadelphia watercolorist Sara Bard, with whom he began studying in 1944. Bard introduced Indiana to a wide range of 20th century artists, including American regionalist painters such as Charles Sheeler, Edward Hopper and Reginald Marsh. The influence of these artists can be seen in Indiana’s work from this period, and this early preference for American styles and subjects has continued throughout his career as a self-proclaimed painter of “the American scene.”

The influence of Marsh’s social realism can be seen in Indiana’s High Yaller, which depicts an everyday scene of a young woman waiting at a bus depot. Indiana’s work has its origins in a 1936 Marsh painting of the same name, which portrays a woman walking down a Harlem street. Both works depict a woman going about an everyday activity, and in each the subject wears a yellow dress that provides a striking contrast to the more muted background tones. Another common element is the inclusion of less prominent male figures. In Marsh’s High Yaller a man, hidden between two staircases, gazes voyeuristically at the female subject, and in Indiana’s two male passersby glance at his subject through the station window. Indiana had not yet developed his interest in the flat patterns with which he has come to be associated, and his creative reworking of Marsh’s painting captures the energy of the older artist’s choppy, calligraphic brushstrokes and swirling rhythms, imbuing the scene with a sense of movement.

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