KvF IV, which takes Marsden Hartley’s Painting, Number 5 (1914-15) as a model, departs from the bright saturated color of the first three Hartley Elegies with its grisaille palette, seen in earlier works by Indiana such as Love Is God (1964) and The Brooklyn Bridge (1964). References to place, an important element of Indiana’s work, are central to KvF IV, highlighting a point of intersection between Indiana’s and Hartley’s lives. The painting’s central ring includes the names of five places where Hartley lived, two of them places that Indiana has also called home. New York and Berlin occupy the top of the ring; the other three are cities in Maine. Lewiston is the town where Hartley was born, and Ellsworth the town where he died. Vinalhaven, at the bottom of the ring, is highlighted through the inclusion of the years that Hartley and Indiana first visited the island (1938 and 1969, respectively). Vinalhaven is of particular significance in that not only did both men live there, but soon after moving to Maine in 1978 Indiana discovered that a building he used for storage had been Hartley’s studio, and it is in Vinalhaven that Indiana conceived of and painted the Hartley Elegies.
Another important element of KvF IV is Indiana’s referencing of significant people in his life. The initials “TvB,” found in the bottom right hand corner of the painting, are a play on “KvF” that refers to Tad Beck, a close friend of Indiana’s in Vinalhaven at the time. Additionally, Ellsworth can also be read as a reference to the artist Ellsworth Kelly, an important figure in Indiana’s early days in New York. The Hartley Elegies are Indiana’s homage to the friendship between Hartley and von Freyburg, and by inserting references to his own relationships Indiana further interweaves his life with Hartley’s, emphasizing the kinship he felt with the artist.