NEW CASTLE, 1969

oil on canvas
60 x 50 in.
(152.4 x 127 cm.)

New Castle is an important example of Indiana’s paintings dedicated to geographical sites of personal significance to him. This work celebrates the artist’s place of birth, the small town of New Castle, located in central Indiana. His home state remained important to him, as he returned to themes dealing with the state throughout his career. By changing his name from Clark to Indiana in 1954, he both sought to stand out in the New York art scene, but also underlined his connection with his home state and mid-western roots. The phrase “No. 1,” inscribed at the top of the canvas, has autobiographical resonance, as it proclaims New Castle as the first of the geographical locations that played a role in his life, while the number also signifies the idea of the individual.

Indiana’s use of shades of brown conjures the image of the soil of the corn and wheat fields that surrounded the town of New Castle, or more broadly the humble character of life in the mid-western town. The phrase “BIG BLUE,” emblazoned in bright red against a vivid blue backdrop, refers to the Big Blue River that runs through New Castle and its environs. At the center of the composition, Indiana makes reference to Highway 38, which runs east-west through New Castle, part of the complex network of intersecting roads, railroad lines and highways that earned the state of Indiana the nickname “Crossroads of America.” Framed in a circle at the heart of canvas, it effectively alludes to vernacular of highway signs that Indiana so often adapted as important symbolic and aesthetic elements of his art. This reference to the highway situates New Castle as one of the many towns through which Indiana would travel in his peripatetic childhood. Automobiles were also one of the products manufactured in factories around the area where Indiana grew up, and the formal treatment of the number 38 and the words “BIG BLUE,” which boldly project from a single vanishing point at the center, suggests the speed of a car rushing forward down the highway.

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UNTITLED

1945
UNTITLED

UNTITLED

1945
UNTITLED

UNTITLED

1945
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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