THE GREAT AMERICAN DREAM: NEW YORK, 1966

Wax crayon on paper
39.9 x 26.1 in.
(101.3 x 66.4 cm.)

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Gift of Norman Dubrow

THE GREAT AMERICAN DREAM: NEW YORK (THE GLORY STAR VERSION)

“It was always my intention with my drawings, or more specifically the rubbings, to tie together some of the various themes of my paintings, to give some cohesion to their connections, which, to the casual observer, would otherwise remain forever fragmented and vague, if not totally opaque.

That series of frottage which I began in the Sixties (and which continues) called THE GREAT AMERICAN DREAM with a geographic subtitle at once links what I consider my own major involvement in painting – the series of oils called just THE AMERICAN DREAM with a numeral designation beginning with the FIRST which was my first major canvas sold in a New York gallery and acquired directly by the Museum of Modern Art, the personal choice of Alfred Barr. Needless to say this was a very auspicious occasion for me and spurred me to expand it into a series of paintings that still goes on.

GREAT, more than just a means to distinguish paintings from drawings, refers to a particular image from my own rural background and that of the literary history of Indiana. I was born in New Castle, Indiana, which for some reason unknown the Hoosier author Ross Lockridge, Jr. took for the locale of his only published novel, “Raintree County”.* This was Henry County disguised and his Freehaven was my New Castle. There is in his book a chapter “A White Bull”, which I do not recall in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film version with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift (transplanted to a more southern locale for obviously cinematic, romantic motives) that describes a certain Mrs. Evelina Brown who is wont to climb to the top of the tower of her Victorian house to watch the operation of a nearby stud farm. When I found in my second studio on Coenties Slip a 19th century brass stencil of a robust bull it recalled this bucolic and some of my own childhood fantasies on an Indiana farm and became the centerpiece of these drawings, extended into a series celebrating not just the geography of the Midwest, i.e. my own TERRE HAUTE and NEW CASTLE paintings, but that of the whole United States: others are San Francisco, Santa Fe, Freehold, etc. This is naturally an open-ended series due to my own abiding fascination with American place names.

Thus THE GREAT AMERICAN DREAM ties together the found object aspect of my early work started in the late Fifties (see the Whitney’s wooden construction MATE) – via the “found” stencil, my DREAM paintings, the geography series and now the AUTOPORTRAITS. As I once had my own calf in childhood and similar fantasies, I now have Lockridge’s (and Hopper’s) Victorian house with a tower overlooking the town of Vinalhaven and the Maine variation on the stud operation. It is meant as a hymn to American fertility, both of the natural sort and the artistic.”

* RAINTREE COUNTY, Ross Lockridge, Jr., Houghton Mifflin Company (The Riverside Press Cambridge) Boston 1948

— Robert Indiana

 

Artist Questionnaire, Whitney Museum of American Art

Medium

Decade

View

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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