Robert Indiana created a series of constructions (herms) during the late 1950s and early 1960s, using discarded wooden beams and other objects he found in his Coenties Slip neighborhood. The artist returned to making constructions in Vinalhaven, Maine, at first using the remaining beams he had in storage from Coenties Slip, and then using objects he found locally on the island, such as wood salvaged from old piers and discarded agricultural implements.
Mars shares many features with Indiana’s New York constructions; it is a columnar form flanked by wheels that stands on a rectangular pedestal, and its title appears in stenciled letters on the front of the work. However it rests atop forward facing footers, something the artist adopted in the 1980s, as seen in the construction Monarchy (1981).
Alongside Thoth (1985), Icarus (1992), Eros (1997), Cyclops (1999), RA (2000), and Zeus/Suez (2000), Mars is one of Indiana’s Vinalhaven constructions with a mythological name. Mars was the Roman god of war and an agricultural guardian, which is reflected in the elements that Indiana incorporated into the sculpture. The three brush axes on the side of the work resonate as weaponry, while the pitchfork crowning the sculpture evokes agricultural work.