September 13. Robert Earl Clark is born in New Castle, Indiana; soon thereafter, he is taken to Richmond, Indiana, to live with caretakers until his adoption by Earl Clark and Carmen Watters Clark, who reside in Indianapolis where Earl works as an executive for the Western Oil Refining Company. Owing to what Indiana would later call his mother's "wanderlust," the family moves repeatedly; Indiana later says he lived in twenty-one houses before he was seventeen.
Shell Oil purchases Western Oil. A few year later, Earl loses his job, and the family is forced to abandon their home and move to a dilapidated farmhouse in the country. Earl finds work pumping gas at a filling station.
Earl secures an administrative job at Phillips Petroleum Company, where he works for the next twelve years. The family moves back to Indianapolis, but they never recover financially.
Summer. Robert travels with his parents to the Chicago World’s Fair and, in subsequent summers, to Alabama to visit paternal relatives (1935) and to Fort Worth, Texas, to see the Frontier Centennial Exposition (1936), trips that contribute to his memories of a childhood spent in transit.
Fall. Underweight and nearsighted, Robert is deemed too ill to enter first grade. His parents attribute his poor health to pollution from the International Harvester factory across from their home, and the family moves to a farm near the small town of Mooresville, twenty miles southwest of Indianapolis.
September. Enters first grade in Mooresville where recognition of his artistic talent by his teacher, Ruth Coffman, reinforces his decision to become an artist. Halfway through the school year, the family moves into Mooresville proper, into a house on Lockerbie Street.
The Clark family moves three times during the school year, causing Robert to relocate to three different schools.
The Clark family moves to Cumberland, a rural town east of Indianapolis, where Robert attends school for four years.
Engaged in a custody dispute, Robert’s maternal aunt, Roberta (Ruby) Watters, murders her mother-in-law in South Bend, Indiana, after accusing her of kidnapping her two young children. Carmen travels to testify on Ruby’s behalf at the trial, which ends in an acquittal based on a defense of temporary insanity. While Carmen is away, Robert lives with his paternal aunt and uncle on their Martinsville farm. Alone in Cumberland, Earl becomes involved with a younger woman, Sylvia.
July. Earl leaves Carmen for Sylvia, who later becomes his third wife. For the next few years, Robert lives with his mother in Cumberland during the week and sees Earl and his new wife in Indianapolis on weekends; his mother supports herself by working in small restaurants and roadside cafes.
Carmen marries Foster Dickey, a custodian at the officers club at the Fort Benjamin Harrison Army base in Lawrence.
September. Enters Lawrence Junior High; attends the school for two years. The school offers no art classes.
Spring. Wins first prize in the Marion County seventh-grade essay competition for “A Covered Bridge,” a poetic description of a local bridge.
September. Moves to Indianapolis to live with his father and his new family in order to attend Arsenal Technical High School, known for its strong art department. To contribute to the family income, he works after-school jobs throughout high school, first delivering poultry and then as a messenger for Western Union. In his junior year, he takes a job as a runner in the advertising department of the Indianapolis Star.
Studies with Sara Bard, an exhibiting watercolorist from Philadelphia, during his last two years at Arsenal Tech.
Summer. Attends summer school to partially fulfill his science requirements in order to spend more time in Bard’s class during the school year.
Fall. Carmen’s husband loses his job, and they move to a small bungalow in Indianapolis. Robert leaves his father’s house and moves in with them; Earl and Sylvia move to Los Angeles.
Awarded a scholarship to attend figure-drawing classes on Saturdays at Indianapolis’s John Herron Art Institute.
June. Graduates from Arsenal Tech as valedictorian, photographer and photo editor of the class yearbook, captain of the honor society (The Tech Legion), staff member of the school newspaper, and recipient of medals in Latin and English. He gifts the Latin department his five medieval-style parchment illustrations of the second chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke from the King James Bible.
Receives a Scholastic Art and Writing Award to attend the John Herron Art Institute; chooses instead to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps (which would become the U.S. Air Force the following year), intending to take advantage of the GI Bill on completing his service.
Fall. Attends a six-week basic training course at Lackland Air Corps Base, San Antonio, Texas, followed by a ten-week technical training course in typing at Lowry Field, Denver, Colorado.
Stationed at New Mexico’s Hobbs Army Airfield, an aircraft storage facility since 1945; teaches typing and starts a mimeographed newspaper for the base to replace its previous newspaper, which had been suspended.
May. Sent to Griffiths Air Force Base, Rome, New York, following the decommissioning of the Hobbs airfield; assigned to the Public Information Office while awaiting permanent assignment. Attends an evening class in Russian at the Utica branch of Syracuse University and art classes at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica.
January. Volunteers for assignment to Fort Richardson, Anchorage, Alaska, the only post available outside the contiguous forty-eight states. Stops in Los Angeles en route to see his father; it is their last visit before Earl’s death in 1965 in Florida. While stationed at Fort Richardson, he edits the base’s newspaper, the Sourdough Sentinel.
Summer. Receives an emergency leave to visit his dying mother, who had been living in Columbus, Indiana, in a house without a kitchen or hot water while running a bakery with her husband. Robert arrives minutes before her death. Finishes his last month of duty at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio; while he is there, his stepfather dies.
September. Discharged from the Air Force. Enters the School of the Art Institute of Chicago under the GI Bill, majoring in painting and printmaking. Active in the Zeta chapter of Delta Phi Delta, a national honor art fraternity. During his four years at the school, he supplements his stipend from the GI Bill by working nights taking inventory at Ryerson Steel and later for the Marshall Field & Company department store, and working part time at the Ryerson Library at the Art Institute; spends one summer illustrating the classified section of the phone book published by the R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company.
Fall. Elected president of the Zeta chapter of Delta Phi Delta.
March. Exhibits figurative paintings in a three-person exhibition with Claes Oldenburg and George Yelich at Club St. Elmo, a restaurant on North State Street in Chicago’s Near North neighborhood.
Spring. Organizes the annual Art Students Costume Ball, sponsored jointly by Delta Phi Delta and the Art Students League, at Cyrus McCormick’s deserted mansion. McCormick was the inventor of the mechanical reaper and founder of the International Harvester Company.
June. Wins a cash prize of $1,250 as the recipient of one of the Art Institute’s seven Foreign Travelling Fellowships, along with a scholarship to attend summer classes at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine.
Summer. Studies at Skowhegan with Henry Varnum Poor, under whom he completes two frescos: Pilate Washing His Hands and a memorial to soldiers who died in the Korean War.
Fall. Sails on the SS United States for England, intending to enroll at Oxford or the University of London to fulfill academic requirements for his bachelor of fine arts; enrolls instead at the University of Edinburgh, where he augments his academic studies by writing poetry, which he illustrates and hand-sets at the Edinburgh College of Art.
December. Embarks on a four-week visit to Paris, punctuated by a trip to the cathedrals of northern France and Belgium with three post-graduate American art historians from the University of Chicago, one of whom, Bates Lowry, would later serve as director of the Museum of Modern Art.
Spring. Takes a month-long trip around Italy.
Summer. Receives, in absentia, his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In order to continue taking advantage of the GI Bill he enrolls in a nonacademic seminar on English seventeenth- and eighteenth-century art, music, and literature at the University of London.
October. Arrives in New York; without funds to return to Chicago, he rents a room for $7 a week in Floral Studios, a residential hotel at 325 West 56th Street that caters to artists. Finds a part-time job selling art supplies at E. H. & A. C. Friedrichs Company on West 57th Street for $20 a week; works there for three years.
Continues writing poetry, and works periodically with John Hoppe's Mobilux kinetic-light "spectaculars," which are broadcast on NBC-TV.
Summer. Sublets the 63rd Street loft of Paul Sanasardo, a dancer and former classmate from the Art Institute, while Sanasardo is on tour. Inspired by Jean Dubuffet, he begins work on a series of expressionistic portraits of friends.
Fall. Moves into a studio at 61 Fourth Avenue in Greenwich Village, the center of Abstract Expressionism;.
June. Meets Ellsworth Kelly. On Kelly’s recommendation, moves into a cold-water loft on the top floor of 31 Coenties Slip, a three-block-long area on the East River at the southern tip of Manhattan, on June 30. A few weeks later, Kelly moves into a nearby loft at 3-5 Coenties Slip. Within the year, the area’s cheap rents attract other artists: Agnes Martin, Lenore Tawney, Ann Wilson, fashion designer John Kloss, and Jack Youngerman along with his wife, Delphine Seyrig, and their son, Duncan. In 1960, James Rosenquist and Charles Hinman move to the area.
Fall. Cy Twombly uses Indiana’s loft during the day to prepare for his upcoming show at the Stable Gallery; he leaves several canvases behind, covering their still-wet surfaces with newspaper. Indiana uses these as the ground for abstract, textured paintings.
Spring. Facing the imminent demolition of his studio building, Indiana relocates to 25 Coenties Slip; he will remain there for the next eight years.
Offers life-drawing classes with Jack Youngerman on the first floor of Youngerman’s building at 27 Coenties Slip under the auspices of the Coenties Slip Workshop. The school operates until October when it closes due to the inaccessibility of the neighborhood and the inability to adequately heat the space.
Summer. Begins a series of paintings on paper of a doubled ginkgo leaf in a hard-edge style inspired by Kelly; due to the paper's impermanency, few survive.
January. Leaves his position at the Friedrichs art supply store and takes a part-time secretarial job at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine typing the correspondence of the dean, James A. Pike, and proofing Edward N. West’s The History of the Cross, illustrated by Norman Laliberté.
Begins work on the drawing Stavrosis (Crucifixion), a nineteen-foot-long mural pieced together from forty-four sheets of paper that he found in his loft. The work reflects the influence of his job at the cathedral and is the fullest realization of his recent series of ginkgo paintings.
Fall. Upon completion of Stavrosis, changes his name to Robert Indiana. Knowing of other artists named Clark in New York, he chooses a new name to stand out; with the examples of Leonardo da Vinci and Tennessee Williams as an inspiration, he selects the name of his home state.
Takes over Jack Youngerman’s position teaching at the Scarsdale Studio Workshop, in Scarsdale, a wealthy suburb of New York; he teaches junior high students and an evening adult painting class.
Winter. Meets John Kloss, a young fashion designer. By the year's end Kloss moves in with Indiana at 25 Coenties Slip.
January. Leaves his job at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine after one year.
Continues to explore the visual motifs he developed in Stavrosis. The double-ginkgo form and the avocado seed appear in the paintings Ginkgo, Source I, and Source II; the orbs appear in a series of works on plywood including Two Golden Orbs and Twenty Golden Orbs.
November. Starts his first assemblage, Sun and Moon (originally titled First Construction), out of rusted metal and discarded wood salvaged from Coenties Slip.
January. Creates two assemblages, Porcupine and Owl, as examples for his students in Scarsdale. Also begins a series of wall-mounted constructions, including Jeanne d'Arc, Wall of China, and Stele of Four Orbs (later retitled Four).
February. Indiana has recently started collecting old mortise and tenon beams salvaged from local buildings slated for demolition or already being torn down. The first two beams Indiana works on become his first freestanding constructions, Pair and French Atomic Bomb. Indiana will call these sculptures “herms,” after the hermae pillars that marked boundaries and served as milestones in the ancient world.
June. Rolf Nelson, a Coenties Slip neighbor and director of the Martha Jackson Gallery, includes Indiana’s herm French Atomic Bomb in the gallery’s landmark exhibition New Media—New Forms; the piece is purchased and later gifted to the Museum of Modern Art.
October. Uncovers a cache of nineteenth-century brass stencils originally used for labeling crates and packaging. These objects spark his interest in using stenciled letters, and one in particular, “The American Hay Company,” will inspire his use of words in a circular format.
Completes Duncan’s Column, named after Jack Youngerman’s son. Salvaged from one of the older buildings on the slip, the column had been cut down from a ship's mast and used in rebuilding after the 1835 Great Fire of New York. Duncan's Column is among the first works in which words become the central focus. The words wrapping around the column are a record of important places and figures in the Coenties Slip neighborhood.
November. Begins work on Election (later retitled Electi), a painting inspired by Kennedy's victory.
December. Creates his first word painting, Terre Haute. On the black and brown canvas he stencils the words "Terre Haute" in red, between two rows of six-pointed stars, and "Wabash 40" in white. The latter is a reference to the point where Route 40 crosses the Wabash River.
Executes his first single-word paintings; includes one of them, Fun, along with recent wood constructions in a three-person show with Steve Durkee and Richard Smith, two Coenties Slip neighbors, at Paul Sanasardo’s dance studio in March.
April. Pairing Indiana's work with that of the sculptor Peter Forakis, Rolf Nelson organizes Indiana / Forakis, a two-person exhibition at the David Anderson Gallery in New York. Indiana presents eight constructions and four paintings: The American Dream, I; Election; Ballyhoo; and Terre Haute.
May. Alfred Barr, director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, purchases The American Dream, I for the museum’s permanent collection, launching Indiana’s career.
January. Indiana paints Eat/Die and begins The Green Diamond Eat/The Red Diamond Die. The paintings, Indiana's bluntest and most direct works to date, are in fact among his most personal, inspired by his mother's dying words to him. The word "Eat" appears in more than half a dozen paintings and nearly a dozen drawings between 1961 and 1962.
February. Indiana's Law appears in Penthouse Exhibition: Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, curated by Campbell Wylly. Philip Johnson purchases the sculpture for his personal collection.
October. Eleanor Ward holds Indiana’s first solo exhibition at her Stable Gallery. That same month at his eponymous gallery, Sidney Janis includes The Black Diamond American Dream #2 in his New Realists exhibition, which announces the arrival of Pop art as a movement; over the next several years, Indiana exhibits in most of the major Pop art exhibitions.
December. Seymour H. Knox purchases Year of Meteors from the Stable Gallery and donates the painting to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo.
January–April. Paints The Demuth American Dream No. 5, a work in the form of a cross made up of five square canvases and measuring 12 by 12 feet in all. The central canvas translates Charles Demuth's painting I Saw the Figure Five in Gold (1928) into Indiana's own visual language. The painting is followed by four ancillary works: The X-5, The Figure 5, The Demuth Five, and The Small Diamond Demuth Five.
Designs a costume for James Waring’s experimental dance “At the Hallelujah Gardens,” presented at the Hunter College Playhouse, New York, on February 3. The costume for the character Icarus, performed by the dancer Fred Herko, includes wheels that are stopped to Herko's ankles, waist, biceps, and head, effectively turning him into one of Indiana's herms.
April. New Glory Penny, Indiana's reimagining of the one-cent coin, appears on the front and back covers of Art in America, in April 1963, the fiftieth anniversary issue. The work is commissioned by the curator Thomas Messer for Coins by Sculptors, a joint project of the periodical and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where the exhibition opens in May.
May. The Museum of Modern Art devotes an entire room to Indiana’s work in its exhibition Americans 1963, further solidifying his reputation.
August. Invited to contribute to a benefit exhibition in support of Bertrand Russell's Peace Foundation, which has been established to promote nuclear disarmament, Indiana paints Yield Brother.
October. The Demuth American Dream No. 5 is acquired by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.
The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, becomes the first museum to present a full survey of Indiana’s work, in a two-person show with Richard Stankiewicz; the show travels to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.
December. Indiana's Yield Brother II is included in the Annual Exhibition 1963: Contemporary American Painting at the Whitney Museum of American Art. It is the first of his four appearances in the Whitney Annuals: 1963, 1965, 1966, and 1967.
February. Indiana and his cat, Particci, appear in Andy Warhol's Eat, a thirty-nine-minute, slow-motion film of Indiana eating a single mushroom. The concept for the film was Indiana's, although what he envisioned as a feast Warhol reconciled as a study in the elapse of time.
The Albert A. List Foundation commissions Indiana to design a poster for the April 23 opening of the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center. Indiana's painting New York State Theater, the basis for the poster, hangs in the east lobby of the plaza level of Philharmonic Hall.
April 1964–October 1965. Exhibits EAT , a twenty-foot-square electric work commissioned by Philip Johnson for the curved facade of the Theaterama, one of the three components of the New York State Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair. Nine other artists, including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and James Rosenquist, exhibit works on the pavilion’s curved facade as well. The flashing lights of EAT are turned on for the first days of the fair, but when the work attracts large crowds looking for a nonexistent restaurant, the sign is "unplugged" and remains so for the duration of the fair.
The Stable Gallery opens its second solo Indiana exhibition on Mother’s Day with a concert of Virgil Thomson’s music; the show features Mother and Father.
Virgil Thomson commissions Indiana to design the sets and costumes for the UCLA Opera Workshop production of The Mother of Us All, scheduled to open May 13 in Schoenberg Hall, University of California, Los Angeles; time constraints prevent Indiana from making more than preliminary sketches.
February. The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., devotes an entire room to Indiana’s paintings in its biennial survey of contemporary American painting.
April. The Junior Council of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, invites Indiana to submit a work of art for its Christmas card program. Indiana presents three LOVE paintings in different color combinations. In May Indiana is informed that the museum selected the red, blue, and green version for the card.
May. The Rolf Nelson Gallery mounts Robert Indiana, the artist's first solo exhibition on the West Coast.
June. Faced with the impending demolition of 25 Coenties Slip, Indiana moves his studio to a former luggage factory on the corner of Spring Street and the Bowery; begins his Confederacy painting series commenting on racial injustice in the South.
Indiana's The Figure 5 is hung in the Old Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. on September 14 as part of an exhibition to honor the Indiana State Arts Commission and the state's sesquicentennial.
Bill Katz becomes Indiana’s studio assistant; he continues to assist Indiana in the studio for more than a decade, initiating and arranging print projects for the artist, including Numbers , with poems by Robert Creeley.
January. Painting and Sculpture Today, 1966 at the John Heron Art Institute, Indianapolis, includes USA 666 (The Sixth American Dream); this is the first work of Indiana's to be exhibited in his home state. Not having been home in over a decade, he attends the opening and spends several weeks in Indianapolis.
March. Galerie Schmela, Düsseldorf, Germany, holds Indiana’s first exhibition in Europe. All the works are sold, and the exhibition subsequently travels to five museums in the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy. The gallery is instrumental in placing many of the artist's major paintings in European museums.
May. The Stable Gallery opens its third solo Indiana exhibition, featuring the artist’s The Cardinal Numbers and LOVE in different mediums, colors, and configurations, and his twelve-inch aluminum LOVE sculpture, published in an edition of six by Multiples, Inc. Embraced by the public as an emblem of countercultural freedom, LOVE proliferates in unauthorized commercial products.
Gene Swenson publishes the essay "The Horizons of Robert Indiana," a reconsideration of Indiana's career and his unique place in American art of the 1960s, in the May issue of Artnews.
August. Accepts a commission to design the sets and costumes of Virgil Thomson's opera The Mother of Us All, to be presented by the Center Opera Company of the Walker Art Center and the Tyrone Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, in January and February 1967.
September. Indiana's largest solo exhibition to date is held at Dayton's 12 Gallery in Minneapolis.
The X-5 is included in Art of the United States, 1670–1966, the inaugural exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Art's new building on Madison Avenue, which was designed by Marcel Breuer.
December. Indiana designs the cover for the fortieth anniversary issue of Arts Magazine, the first commissioned variation on his LOVE design. The cover shows a mirrored "40" in red, yellow, black, and blue on a white background.
Indiana produces LOVE, a 34-inch-square serigraph based on his red, blue, and green LOVE. The print is sold in two editions, one edition of 250 signed prints, and a second of 2,275 unsigned and unnumbered prints. Both editions are published by Multiples, Inc. in conjunction with Mass Originals, New York, contributing to the widespread dissemination of the image.
April. Installs his Cardinal Numbers as a vertical column fifty feet high for the American Pavilion at Montreal’s Expo ’67.
September. Indiana is commissioned by the Association of Progressive German Dealers to design the poster for Kunstmarkt in Cologne, Germany. Galerie Schmela mounts an exhibition of his work during the fair.
Exhibits in São Paulo 9: Environment United States, 1957–1967, curated by William Seitz for the American Pavilion at the ninth Biennial of São Paulo.
October. Exhibits The Great LOVE in the triennial exhibition of international art at the Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh; the museum acquires the piece.
January. Indiana and Katz travel to Pittsburgh to see the Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture. There Indiana meets Fritz Honisch of Editions Domberger in Stuttgart, Germany; Honisch is enthusiastic about working on a project with him, and Editions Domberger will, for the next twenty years, be the primary publisher of Indiana's prints.
Indiana and Katz travel to Buffalo, where they stay with Robert Creely and conceive plans for the Numbers portfolio to be published by Editions Domberger. Creely agrees to write a sequence of ten poems to accompany the prints of the paintings.
April. The Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, opens Indiana’s first solo museum exhibition, consisting of thirty-eight works; the show travels to the Marion Koogler McNay Art Institute, San Antonio, Texas, and the John Herron Institute of Art, Indianapolis.
RCA reproduces The Imperial LOVE on the album cover of Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie.
June. At the invitation of the Aspen Center for the Humanistic Studies (now the Aspen Institute), Indiana spends the summer in Colorado, where he is one of five artists-in-residence at the Aspen Center for Contemporary Art.
The Cardinal Numbers, LOVE WALL, The Red Diamond American Dream #3, and Yield Brother II, along with the sculpture LOVE, are included in Documents 4: Internationale Austellung in Kassel, Germany. Commissioned to create a serigraph for the exhibition, Indiana produces Die Deutsche Vier, the numeral four in the colors of the West German flag.
June. Robert Indiana: Graphics, a full survey of Indiana's graphics and posters, is organized and exhibited by the Department of Art of Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame.
August. Visits photographer Eliot Elisofon on Vinalhaven, an island off the coast of Maine. Inspired by Indiana’s enthusiasm for the island’s abandoned hundred-year-old Odd Fellows lodge, the “Star of Hope,” Elisofon purchases the building. For the next nine years, Indiana will rent the top floor for use as a studio every September and October.
December. Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine, opens a retrospective of Indiana’s prints and posters; a modified version of the exhibition Robert Indiana: Graphics shown at Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, earlier in the year. The show travels for two years to museums in the northeast United States and Europe.
Hero is published in an edition of one thousand. The print, a reproduction of a drawing made by Indiana at the age of eight, is accompanied by a poem especially written by Robert Creeley. Indiana mails copies of the edition as New Year cards to friends and colleagues.
January. Designs the cover of the January–February issue of Art in America.
May. Indiana designs the exhibition poster for American Art since 1960 at the Princeton University Art Museum. The poster marks the first public appearance of his ART image. The image also appears in the poster for the Inaugural Exhibition of the Indianapolis Museum of Art in October 1970, as well as in a series of paintings and sculptures.
June. Lippincott Foundry produces a twelve-foot-high Cor-Ten steel LOVE, which has its public debut in October in Seven Outside at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The following October the piece is installed in Boston in the plaza surrounding City Hall as part of the exhibition Monumental Sculpture for Public Spaces. Lippincott remains Indiana’s foundry until 1994, when it ceases operation.
December. Designs the poster and banner for the exhibition Four Americans in Paris at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
January. Begins Decade: Autoportraits, a series of paintings in three sizes chronicling his life in the 1960s; he finishes the two smaller series by 1972 and the larger series by 1978. The complete series totals thirty paintings.
May. Multiples, Inc. publishes Decade, a portfolio of serigraphs of ten of Indiana's paintings, a representative work for each year from 1960 through 1969. The serigraphs are exhibited simultaneously as Multiples, Inc. in New York and Los Angeles, and in twenty-four other galleries worldwide.
November. LOVE travels to New York, where Indiana installs it at the Fifth Avenue and 60th Street entrance to Central Park; the sculpture remains on view for six weeks before returning to the Indianapolis Museum of Art for permanent display.
February. Travels to Indianapolis to oversee the installation of his twelve-foot Cor-Ten LOVE outside One Indiana Square, the headquarters of Indiana National Bank, which also hosts a public exhibition of his paintings and prints.
September. Designs the cover for Robert Creeley’s A Day Book, published by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.
November. Galerie Denise René, New York, becomes Indiana’s New York dealer; it holds its first Indiana exhibition, premiering the first two series of Decade: Autoportraits along with a twenty-foot LOVE painting and several LOVE and ART sculptures.
January. Honored by the Indiana Arts Commission, along with the novelist Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and several others at a ceremony in Indianapolis. Each honoree is presented with a LOVE serigraph by Indiana.
The United States Postal Service commissions a stamp design by Indiana and releases the eight-cent LOVE stamp in advance of Valentine's Day; 425 million stamps are printed over the next two years, for which the artist receives a flat fee of a thousand dollars.
John Huszar produces Robert Indiana Portrait, a documentary film about the artist.
September. The seven-foot-high, red and blue ART, recently exhibited at Galerie Denise René, is installed outdoors as part of the opening of the new Colby Art Museum, Colby College, Waterville, Maine. Indiana creates two prints Colby Art and Colby Tondo, and a poster inspired by the ART painting in the museum's collection. The museum subsequently adopts his design as its logo.
January. Designs the cover of an Artists Address Book, published by the Whitney Museum of American Art; the book includes portraits of twenty-five artists.
Nine Artists: Coenties Slip at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Downtown Branch is the first museum exhibition of the work of Indiana and his contemporaries as a group; The Melville Triptych and Mate are exhibited alongside the work of Charles Hinman, Ellsworth Kelly, Fred Mitchell, Agnes Martin, James Rosenquist, Ann Wilson, and Jack Youngerman.
April. American Pop Art, the first major historical survey of the movement, is presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The exhibition, curated by Lawrence Alloway, features twenty-seven works by seventeen artists. Indiana is represented by five paintings, The Calumet, Year of Meteors, Eat/Die, The X-5, and Louisiana.
October. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden opens in Washington, D.C. Indiana is one of four artists invited to design a poster to commemorate the occasion. The Beware-Danger American Dream #4 is included in the inaugural exhibition.
February. The 72-inch Decade: Autoportrait 1965 is exhibited in the Thirty-Fourth Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. It is the first of the ten 72-inch canvases in the series to be shown publicly, and the image is reproduced on the cover of the exhibition catalogue.
Fall. Redesigns his 1973 LOVE stamp as a 70-cent Special Delivery Stamp for the U.S. Postal Service.
October. The Indianapolis Museum of Art purchases the monumental Cor-Ten sculpture LOVE in honor of its former president Henry F. DeBoest.
December. Galerie Denise René publishes a portfolio of seven serigraphs, based loosely on Indiana’s Polygon paintings of 1962; the gallery premiers them on December 12 along with LOVE and ART sculptures.
The Santa Fe Opera announces plans to present Virgil Thomson's The Mother of Us All as part of the U.S. Bicentennial and commissions Indiana to create the sets, costumes, and poster. The opera is presented on August 7, 11, 20, and 25 of the following year.
The Neuberger Museum, State University of New York, Purchase, acquires and permanently installs one of Indiana’s seven-foot-high red/blue ART sculptures on its campus.
Designs two serigraphs, Liberty 76 and The Golden Future of America, for American Bicentennial portfolios published by Lorillard and Transworld Art, respectively.
September. Installs a six-foot-high red/purple LOVE on the John F. Kennedy Plaza, Philadelphia, as part of the city’s bicentennial celebration.
October. Indiana's poster VOTE is published to benefit the Democratic National Committee and Jimmy Carter’s bid for the presidency. In recognition of his contribution Indiana is invited to, and attends, the presidential inauguration in January 1977.
November. Indiana purchases the Star of Hope from the Elisofon estate.
September. University Art Museum, University of Texas, Austin, opens a retrospective of Indiana’s work; the show travels to museums in Norfolk, Virginia; Purchase, New York; Indianapolis; and South Bend, Indiana. The complete series of 72-inch Decade: Autoportrait paintings is exhibited in Austin for the first time; forty-one additional paintings and sculptures are shown.
Commissioned to design and paint the home basketball court of the Milwaukee Bucks and Marquette University Warriors at the Milwaukee Exposition Convention Center Arena (MECCA), Indiana becomes the first and only artist to design a court for the National Basketball Association.
April. Unable to raise the $45,000 purchase price, the City of Philadelphia removes Indiana's sculpture LOVE from the John F. Kennedy Plaza. Two weeks later, following a public outcry, Eugene Dixon, the owner of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team, purchases the sculpture and donates it to the city.
October. Loses lease on his Spring Street studio after thirteen years; moves permanently to Vinalhaven. Over the next ten years, Indiana restores the Star of Hope; it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
Installs his twelve-foot-high Cor-Ten steel AHAVA (the Hebrew word for "love"), produced by Lippincott Foundry, at the Fifth Avenue and 60th Street entrance of New York’s Central Park before sending it to the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, for permanent display.
April 1979–April 1980. Cardinal Two is shown at the residence of the Vice President in Washington, D.C., as part of the third exhibition of contemporary art organized by Joan Mondale. The exhibition is drawn from museums in northeastern states and is co-curated by Robert T. Buck of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo.
Multiples Inc. publishes Decade: Autoportraits, Vinalhaven Suite, a portfolio of ten serigraphs created by Indiana commemorating the events, places, and people of importance to him in the 1970s.
July. Indiana receives his largest commission to date from the Indianapolis based Marvin Simon & Associates. The work, ONE Through ZERO (The Ten Numbers), consists of ten monumental, polychrome aluminum sculptures. Simon intends to install each of the numbers at properties he owns around Indianapolis, and eventually to donate the entire group to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Fall. Rents a building, referred to as the sail loft, near his home, the Star of Hope, to use as a sculpture studio; begins making a new series of herms out of driftwood he finds on Vinalhaven.
January. Indiana leaves Vinalhaven for the first time in fifteen months and travels to Washington, D.C., where he visits the White House and presents President Jimmy Carter with a copy of his most recent print, An Honest Man Has Been President. The work is part of a Presidential Portfolio, complied for the Carter-Mondale campaign.
July. Indiana accepts a commission to create C, a painting for the new town hall in Columbus, Indiana. In November he attends the unveiling of the work.
July. The Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine, across the Penobscot Bay from Vinalhaven, opens Indiana’s Indianas, a twenty-year survey of work that Indiana has retained in his own collection; the show travels to five museums in Maine, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Indiana produces a new serigraph, Decade: Autoportrait 1969, V/H, to benefit the Farnsworth museum. It is based on the 72-inch painting Decade: Autoportrait 1969 that commemorates his first visit to Vinalhaven.
Contributes a new serigraph, The Bridge, to the portfolio New York, New York, published by the New York Graphic Society. The portfolio, conceived to celebrate the status of New York as a center of global culture and the hundredth anniversary of the Brooklyn Bridge, also includes prints by Red Grooms, Alex Katz, R. B. Kitaj, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers, and James Rosenquist.
May. The National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C., opens Wood Works: Constructions by Robert Indiana, the first exhibition to survey Indiana’s wood constructions; the show travels to the Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Indiana completes two new constructions in time for the show, Sun and Five, the latter subsequently donated to the museum by the artist because it was conceived of as a companion to the painting The Figure 5, which is already in the museum's permanent collection.
Indiana creates Ash and Thoth, the first in his series of large-scale Vinalhaven constructions, for which he incorporates wood salvaged from old piers and from the old granite quarry on the island.
Patricia Nick opens Vinalhaven Press, which will become Indiana's primary print workshop over the next decade.
February. The American Dream, I is included in Pop Art, 1955–1970, one of the first of many reexaminations of Pop art to take place over the next ten years that feature his art; sponsored by the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art, the show opens at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, and travels to Melbourne and Brisbane.
June. The O'Farrell Gallery in Brunswick, Maine, exhibits a selection of prints, paintings, and sculptures by Indiana.
Simon Salama-Caro, of the Salama-Caro Gallery in London, is introduced to Indiana through their mutual friend the artist Bernar Venet. Salama-Caro visits Indiana in Vinalhaven in the fall of 1987 and again several times over the next year. Indiana, who has been reluctant to work with another gallery, is won over by Salama-Caro's interest in realizing a project Indiana has dreamed about since the 1960s—having his early herms cast in bronze.
October. Begins his series of Hartley Elegy paintings, inspired by the German Officer paintings of Marsden Hartley, who lived on Vinalhaven in the summer of 1938 in a house near the former grocery store Indiana rents for storage; Indiana works on the series, which ultimately comprises eighteen Elegies, through 1994.
November. Indiana selects a group of eight herms to be cast in bronze and entrusts William Katz to direct the project with the support of Simon Salama-Caro. Katz selects the Empire Bronze Art Foundry in Long Island City to cast the works.
Fall. Park Granada Editions publishes five serigraphs based on Indiana’s Hartley Elegies; five more follow in a diamond format in 1991.
September. Harry N. Abrams publishes Robert Indiana by Carl Weinhardt, Jr., the first hardcover monograph on the artist.
November. Indiana travels to New York where two solo exhibition of his work open simultaneously, one at the Marisa del Re Gallery, the other at the Vinalhaven Press Gallery. Marisa del Re presents his ten, 72-inch Decade: Autoportrait paintings, the first time they have been exhibited in New York. The Vinalhaven Press exhibits the recently completed Hartley Elegy prints.
May. Susan Sheehan Gallery, New York, holds a solo exhibition of Indiana’s prints in conjunction with its publication of Robert Indiana Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1951–1991.
Marisa del Re commissions and organizes the installation of a twelve-foot red and blue LOVE sculpture as part of the IIIème Biennale de Sculpture Monte-Carlo, Monaco.
September. The Salama-Caro Gallery, London, opens Robert Indiana: Early Sculpture, 1960–1962; the show presents thirty-three works, including nine herms, six columns, the first eight examples of the recently completed bronze casts, and early paintings from Indiana's collection. Indiana travels to London, his first visit there since 1954, for the opening.
The Royal Academy of Arts, London, includes Indiana’s work in its international survey The Pop Art Show; the show travels to the Museum Ludwig, Cologne; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Susan Elizabeth Ryan completes the first Ph.D. dissertation on Robert Indiana at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; updated to cover his work through the early 1990s, the dissertation is published as Robert Indiana: Figures of Speech by Yale University Press in 2000.
One of Indiana’s twelve-foot-high red/blue/green LOVE sculptures is acquired and permanently installed in front of the I-Land Tower in Tokyo’s central business district, known as the Nishi-Shinjuku.
Lippincott produces a twelve-foot-high blue/green LOVE for permanent installation in front of Winsland House II, the headquarters of Wing Tai Holdings Limited, Singapore. It is the last Indiana sculpture the foundry produces before it closes.
April. The Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, opens an exhibition of Marsden Hartley’s German Officer paintings and Indiana’s Hartley Elegies; the show travels to the Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago; the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University, Miami; and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where only the Hartley Elegies are exhibited.
Simon Salama-Caro becomes Indiana’s primary agent, organizing a program of gallery exhibitions and introducing Indiana to the Morgan Art Foundation, which assists the artist in completing sculpture editions that were started in the 1960s. Three years later, Salama-Caro will begin a project to catalogue all of Indiana’s paintings and sculpture.
American Image Art, New York publishes The Book of Love, a limited edition portfolio of twelve of Indiana’s LOVE serigraphs and related poems.
May. Indiana receives a commission for the VIème Biennale de Sculpture Monte-Carlo, in Monaco, from Marisa del Re. The exhibition is part of the larger commemoration of the seven hundred years that the principality has been governed by the Grimaldi family. Indiana completes two works, both in red and white, an 8-foot-high Seven and an 18-inch-high 700.
June. Indiana’s first museum retrospective in Europe opens at the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice, with the installation of a twelve-foot-high red/blue/green LOVE in the esplanade outside the museum. Also included in the exhibition are The Seventh American Dream and The X-7; painted in honor of this show the works signal his return to the American Dream series thirty-two years after he completed The Sixth American Dream. At the opening, Indiana is awarded Citoyen d’honor (honorary citizen of Nice) by the mayor.
Fall. Milgo/Bufkin produces Indiana’s first AMOR sculpture. The foundry becomes Indiana’s sculpture atelier.
The American Dream, a limited-edition book of thirty Indiana serigraphs with poems by Robert Creeley, is published by Marco Fine Arts Contemporary Atelier.
June. Love and the American Dream: The Art of Robert Indiana, a retrospective exhibition, opens at the Portland Museum of Art, Maine; the show travels to the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, Georgia. The exhibition of nearly seventy works is Indiana's first U.S. retrospective since 1976 and traces the evolution of his work from the early herms through the late 1990s.
Paints The Eighth American Dream, which he dedicates to his mother Carmen.
PAX (now the Center to Prevent Youth Violence) commissions Indiana to design a poster for its campaign against gun violence; the poster, LOVE 2000, is displayed on the sides of buses and bus kiosks in cities across the United States.
October. The Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis acquires the sculpture 2000, and the following year it acquires Indiana's first word painting, Terre Haute. Governor Frank O'Bannon commissions Indiana to create a work for the museum's new building; work is begun on The Indiana Obelisk, which is completed in 2002.
Crossroads of American Sculpture opens at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The exhibition explores the work of six major twentieth-century sculptors whose roots lie in the state; Indiana is represented by twenty works.
November. Indiana’s 12-foot-high, red/blue LOVE is installed on Sixth Avenue at 55th Street, New York.
Indiana revisits a group of plywood orb paintings from 1959, which have never been exhibited, adding gold to areas that were previously painted in gesso.
March. The Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, installs a 12-foot-high red/blue LOVE in its atrium to coincide with its exhibition Les Années Pop, 1956 à 1968. Indiana's Eat/Die and four early herms, Ahab, Bar, Four, and Orb, are also shown.
Hommage à Indiana opens at the Galerie Denise René Espace Marais, Paris.
May. Galería Ateneo de Caracas presents the largest exhibition of Indiana's work to date in South America. The exhibition Los Estados Unidos bajo la Optica de Robert Indiana consists of thirty-two paintings and sculptures.
September. Galerie Guy Pieters in Saint-Paul de Vence, France, presents an exhibition of Indiana's recent work, including twelve paintings from his Marilyn series and examples of his polychrome ONE Through ZERO (The Ten Numbers), LOVE, ART, and AHAVA series.
September 11. While in New York, en route to his show at Galerie Guy Pieters, Indiana witnesses the destruction of the World Trade Center from his hotel window; he returns immediately to Vinalhaven and paints Afghanistan.
The Maine Arts Commission invites Indiana to create a work for the new Maine State House as part of its Percent for Art program. In 2004 The First State to Hail the Rising Sun is permanently installed in the State House.
April. The Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis, installs the artist's 48-foot-high The Indiana Obelisk in its atrium; Indiana governor Frank O’Bannon declares April 9 “Robert Indiana Day.”
July. The Shanghai Art Museum opens Robert Indiana, the artist's first exhibition in China. The show is a broad survey of his career and includes one new canvas, The 6666, The American Dream.
Summer. Indiana is sent two variations of the Mandarin word for love, ài, by Li Ziang Yang, the director of the Shanghai Art Museum. Using these images he begins work on his Ài series, a group of fourteen paintings in two sizes.
Fall. The Scottsdale Art Museum, Arizona, acquires one of Indiana’s 12-foot-high red/blue LOVE sculptures and places it on permanent loan on the city’s Civic Center Mall.
February. Indiana’s work is reintroduced to New York after a long absence through two concurrent exhibitions, one at C&M Arts and the other at Paul Kasmin Gallery. The two galleries agree to share representation of Indiana's work.
The exhibition at C&M, Robert Indiana: Letters, Words and Numbers, features work from 1960 to 1970; the gallery also organizes the exhibition of Indiana's 6-foot-high polychrome numbers, ONE Through ZERO (The Ten Numbers), on Park Avenue, New York, from 60th to 70th streets. They subsequently travel to California for installation in front of Beverly Hills City Hall.
Paul Kasmin Gallery presents Robert Indiana: Recent Paintings, an exhibition of thirteen canvases from the past five years. The show is the first major presentation of new works by Indiana in New York since 1976.
September. The Michael Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles presents Robert Indiana: Peace Paintings, an exhibition of nine small paintings from his latest series.
The Taipei Financial Center, Taiwan, commissions a twelve-foot-high red/gold LOVE to be installed in front of its tower, Taipei 101.
April. Paul Kasmin Gallery opens an exhibition of fifteen Peace paintings. Also that month, the Price Tower Arts Center, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, opens a solo exhibition of Indiana’s paintings and sculpture; at the show’s close in July, the center purchases the artist’s monumental sculpture Sixty-Six (2004) for its plaza.
The Waddington Galleries becomes Indiana’s London dealer; its first exhibition of the artist’s work opens in September.
September. Paul Kasmin Gallery presents Robert Indiana: Wood, an exhibition of twenty-one wood constructions, previously unseen in New York.
Completes his Ginkgo Ài series, twelve canvases depicting his double ginkgo form on a gold-leaf background overlaid with the word ài (Mandarin for "love") in two different forms.
March. Robert Indiana: A Living Legend is presented at the Seoul Museum of Art, South Korea.
May. Indiana’s monumental sculptures LOVE, Imperial LOVE, AMOR, LOVE Wall, and ONE Through ZERO (The Ten Numbers) are installed outdoors in Madrid between the Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums; the works travel to Valencia, Bilbao, and Lisbon.
Rizzoli publishes Robert Indiana, with essays by Joachim Pissarro, John Wilmerding, and Robert Pincus-Witten.
September. Eric Breitbart and MUSE Film and Television produce an hour-long documentary, Robert Indiana: American Dreamer.
November. Galerie Gmurzynska, Zurich, begins its association with Indiana by hosting a retrospective of his art.
July. The Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan, presents the first solo show of Indiana’s work in Italy, including an outdoor installation of Indiana’s monumental sculptures ONE Through ZERO (The Ten Numbers), LOVE, LOVE Wall, Imperial LOVE, and AMOR.
June. The Farnsworth Art Museum opens Robert Indiana and the Star of Hope, a survey of Indiana’s art, accompanied by a documentary film directed by Dale Schierholt. In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum installs a twelve-foot-high Cor-Ten LOVE WALL in its garden, where it remains on display until 2018, and the artist’s twenty-foot electric EAT, in storage since the 1964 New York World’s Fair, on its roof. EAT is reinstalled on the roof every subsequent year during the summer.
June. Galerie Gmurszynska, Zurich, presents Robert Indiana: Rare Works from 1959 on Coenties Slip, an exhibition of ten early works on plywood. An extensive interview with Indiana and an essay by the art historian Joachim Pissarro are published in the catalogue.
Robert Indiana: New Perspectives, edited by Allison Unruh, is published by Hatje Cantz in Germany, evidence of the critical reevaluation of Indiana's career after years of neglect.
September. The Whitney Museum of American Art hosts Indiana’s first ever New York retrospective, Robert Indiana: Beyond LOVE. Curated by Barbara Haskell, the exhibition of nearly ninety works draws out the political, social, and personal dimensions of Indiana's works, presenting a multifaceted portrait of an artist deeply engaged with his times.
The museum acquires Indiana's The Electric EAT for its permanent collection.
February. The Essential Indiana opens at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, opens two exhibitions, Robert Indiana: The Mother of Us All, and Robert Indiana’s Hartley Elegies, as a compliment to the retrospective Robert Indiana: Beyond LOVE.
September. On the occasion of Pope Francis’s visit to Philadelphia, Robert Indiana’s AMOR is installed on the East Terrace of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, overlooking the celebration of the papal mass on Sunday, September 27. The Philadelphia Museum of Art later acquires the sculpture, which is permanently installed in Philadelphia’s Sister Cities Park, between the museum and the sculpture LOVE in John F. Kennedy Plaza, in December 2016.
Craig F. Starr Gallery, New York, presents Robert Indiana Sign Paintings 1960-65, a series of small early paintings by the artist.
September. A Cor-Ten Imperial LOVE enters the collection of the Nationalgalerie Berlin and is installed at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart.
April. The exhibition Robert Indiana, organized by Galerie Gmurzynska at the Pinacoteca Communal, Casa Rusca in Locarno, Switzerland, presents thirty works spanning more than fifty years of the artist's career.
May. The Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, presents the first public installation world-wide of the complete set of Robert Indiana’s ONE Through ZERO (The Ten Numbers), ten 6-foot-high Cor-Ten steel sculptures.
September. The exhibition Robert Indiana: Works from the Collection of Herbert Lust, comprising twenty-seven paintings and drawings, is mounted at the S|2 Gallery at Sotheby's, New York. In the catalogue for the exhibition there is an essay by Lust about his long friendship with the artist.
February. Love Long: Robert Indiana and Asia opens at the Asia Society, Hong Kong. The first exhibition of his work in Hong Kong, it highlights Indiana's influence on a younger generation of artists in Asia.
April. KvF, Indiana's first bronze sculpture cast from one of his Vinalhaven constructions, is included in Hello World: Revising a Collection at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart in Berlin.
May 19. Indiana dies at home in Vinalhaven, at the age of eighty-nine. His house and estate are left to The Star of Hope Foundation, a nonprofit entity that is created under the terms of his will.
June. Robert Indiana: A Sculpture Retrospective, curated by Joe Lin-Hill, is presented at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. In conjunction with the show, the Albright-Knox organizes the public installation of Indiana’s Cor-Ten steel ONE Through ZERO (The Ten Numbers) in Wilkeson Pointe, a public park near Buffalo’s Outer Harbor. The museum acquires Indiana's 96-inch red/green/blue LOVE for its permanent collection.
November. Love & Peace: A Robert Indiana Memorial Exhibition opens at the Contemporary Art Foundation in Tokyo.
October. Robert Indiana: A Legacy of Love, an exhibition honoring the artist's lasting impact on the history of contemporary art, opens at the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio.