Situated in the middle of a large and fertile field of demolished 19th century warehouses with damaged beams lying in the rubble waiting to be burned or scavenged by a band of indigent artists looking for raw materials. The only rub is that with so many prospectors working the field, a piece spotted and "claimed" in the morning may disappear by nightfall, the propitious time for beam salvaging. Buildings to the left, buildings to the right are razed to make way for future skyscrapers.
At first geometric and severe, rusted metal and white gesso against wood stained and scarred with age, the transformation of the constructions advances with the polychromy of commerce’s signs, rampant on warehouse, truck, and ship, along with another element abandoned in the doomed warehouses and sailmakers’ lofts that fringe the waterfront: the brass stencil which brings the word to bear.
An opportunity to exhibit this work comes when a neighbor on the Slip, Rolf Nelson, working at the Martha Jackson Gallery, suggests his inclusion in the New Forms New Media show in July.
French Atomic Bomb is his first piece shown in New York and is bought from the show. A few years later, after passing hands, it is given to the Museum of Modern Art.
— Robert Indiana
Except from the artist’s autochronology, first published in John W. McCoubrey and Robert Indiana, Robert Indiana (Philadelphia: Institute of Contemporary Art and Falcon Press, 1968).