THE SEVENTH AMERICAN DREAM, 1998

oil on canvas
four panels, diamond
overall: 204 x 204 in.
(518.2 x 518.2 cm.)

Collection Fond National d’Art Contemporain. On loan to Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice

The Seventh American Dream is the largest of Indiana’s American Dream paintings. Conceived in relation to the artist’s 1998 retrospective at the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain in Nice, France, it was completed over thirty years after his sixth work in the series, USA 666 (1966), and is the first American Dream he painted in Vinalhaven. Indiana revisits and expands upon the formal vocabulary of earlier works, employing the quadripartite diamond format he first experimented with in The Red Diamond American Dream #3 (1962), and incorporating the number of the Dream within the painting’s orbs, as he did in the fourth and fifth Dreams (both 1963). The painting’s colors, red, white, blue, and orange, appear in different combinations in earlier seven paintings such as The Polygon 7: Heptagon (1962) and Seven (1965); additionally, the combination of red, white, and blue suggests both the French and American flags.

Indiana has noted that while his early dreams were cynical, with “Dream” being used in an ironic sense, that they lost that irony as they proceeded [1]. This is illustrated The Seventh American Dream, which celebrates three American expatriates, the actress Grace Kelly, the entertainer Josephine Baker, and the dancer Isadora Duncan. All three went to France and prospered, achieving their personal version of the Dream. Although The Demuth American Dream #5 (1963) was a homage, this is the first work of the Dream series in which Indiana included the names of the particular individuals he was commemorating. The first name of each woman is incorporated into the perimeter of one of the orbs, along with the place and year of her birth and death. Indiana also inserts himself directly into the painting, including his name alongside the text, “The American Dream,” which, in previous diamond shaped dreams had been the only text in the perimeter of the lower circle. Not only is he too an American who achieved his version of the Dream through his artistic career, which was being celebrated in France with a solo exhibition, he was celebrating his 70th birthday that year.

 

[1] “Conversations with Robert Indiana,” in Donald B. Goodall, Robert L. B. Tobin, and William Katz, Robert Indiana. Exhibition catalogue (Austin: University Art Museum, University of Texas at Austin, 1977)

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1970
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1977
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1984
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1992
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2000