DECADE: AUTOPORTRAIT 1960 (48 in.), 1971

oil on canvas
48 x 48 in.
(121.9 x 121.9 cm)

©2021 MORGAN ART FOUNDATION LTD./ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NY

Decade: Autoportrait 1960 belongs to the series of symbolic self-portraits that Indiana created as a meditation on his life and career in the 1960s. The series, created in the 1970s, is comprised of works in three different sizes; the present work is an example of the 48 inch square version, which was included in a 1972 solo exhibition at the Denise René Gallery in New York.

Representing the opening year in this transformative decade, Decade: Autoportrait 1960 makes reference to some of the most important people and places in the development of Indiana’s artistic career. The inscription “THE WATERFRONT,” which grounds the composition, refers to Coenties Slip, where Indiana lived from 1956–65. The area, on the Southeast tip of Manhattan, had once been the center of the shipping trade in New York, and became home to a vanguard art community in the late 1950s. The inscriptions “PEARL” and “SOUTH ST” both refer to neighboring streets near Indiana’s Coenties Slip studios. Fellow artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns lived on Pearl Street in the early fifties, while Agnes Martin and Jack Youngerman occupied studios on South Street in the early sixties.

A reference to a close friend at the time is found in the phrase “ELLS” which refers to Ellsworth Kelly, the artist who was responsible for introducing Indiana to Coenties Slip. As Indiana has often acknowledged, Kelly was one of the most important influences of his early career, particularly in his exploration of hard-edged abstract forms and brilliant colors. The inscription “ICI,” which means “here” in French, can be seen as a declarative statement that underlines the significance of the places cited in the work.

Although 1960 marked the beginning of the decade, Indiana viewed the year’s last numeral, “0,” as the tenth digit, referring to his various series of numbers as One Through Zero. Thus, as the end of the cycle of numbers, zero also symbolizes death. The somber shades of gray in this work underline this idea, and are used in many of Indiana’s other renderings of the number. By being aligned with both the idea of beginnings and endings, the painting encodes complex ideas about the cycle of life.

The composition of Decade: Autoportrait 1960 is based on a series of forms that had particular resonance for Indiana, including the numeral “1,” which represents the idea of the individual; a five-sided star, which alludes to the stars of the American flag; and a decagon, whose ten sides make reference to the theme of the decade. These shapes, together with the fragments of text that include “IND,” the abbreviation of the artist’s name, are layered upon one another, suggesting overlapping transparent planes. Indiana’s masterful handling of these interpenetrating visual planes is particularly notable in this work, and demonstrates his unique adaptation of the heritage of Cubism and American Precisionism into his own formal language.

Medium

Decade

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Clear Filters
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
HUB

HUB

1957/2005
SOURCE I

SOURCE I

1959
THE SLIPS

THE SLIPS

1959–60
SUN AND MOON

SUN AND MOON

1959–60
FOUR

FOUR

1959–62/1972
TWO GOLDEN ORBS

TWO GOLDEN ORBS

1959/2001
GINKGO

GINKGO

1960
RA

RA

1960
SOUL

SOUL

1960
OWL

OWL

1960
ORB

ORB

1960
MOON

MOON

1960
M

M

1960
GE

GE

1960
WALL OF CHINA

WALL OF CHINA

1960–61
ELECTI

ELECTI

1960–61
MARINE WORKS

MARINE WORKS

1960–62
MATE

MATE

1960–62
TWO

TWO

1960–62
JEANNE D'ARC

JEANNE D'ARC

1960–62
BAR

BAR

1960–62
ZIG

ZIG

1960–62
LAW

LAW

1960–62
AHAB

AHAB

1960–62
STAR

STAR

1960–62
WOMB

WOMB

1960–62
CUBA

CUBA

1960–62
HOLE

HOLE

1960–62
MELVILLE

MELVILLE

1961
BALLYHOO

BALLYHOO

1961
HARDROCK

HARDROCK

1961
SLIP

SLIP

1961
DOWN

DOWN

1962
UP

UP

1962
GRASS

GRASS

1962
FOR

FOR

1962
EAT/DIE

EAT/DIE

1962
HUG

HUG

1962
HUB

HUB

1962
EAT

EAT

1962
CHIEF

CHIEF

1962
DIE

DIE

1962/1984
GEM

GEM

1962/1984
THE X-5

THE X-5

1963
COLUMN LOVE

COLUMN LOVE

1963–64
COLUMN EAT

COLUMN EAT

1963–64
FLAGELLANT

FLAGELLANT

1963/1969
LOVE

LOVE

1964
LOVE

LOVE

1964
THE ELECTRIC EAT

THE ELECTRIC EAT

1964–2007
ONE

ONE

1964–65
TWO

TWO

1964–65
THREE

THREE

1964–65
FOUR

FOUR

1964–65
FIVE

FIVE

1964–65
SEVEN

SEVEN

1964–65
MY MOTHER

MY MOTHER

1964/1998
MY FATHER

MY FATHER

1964/1998
DILLINGER

DILLINGER

1964/1998
CALL ME ISHMAEL

CALL ME ISHMAEL

1964/1998
CALL ME INDIANA

CALL ME INDIANA

1964/1998
BOB'S COLUMN

BOB'S COLUMN

1964/1998
SIX

SIX

1965
EIGHT

EIGHT

1965
NINE

NINE

1965
ZERO

ZERO

1965
ALABAMA

ALABAMA

1965
MODEL T

MODEL T

1966
FLORIDA

FLORIDA

1966
LOVE

LOVE

1966
666

666

1966
LOVE

LOVE

1966–1999
THE ELECTRIC LOVE

THE ELECTRIC LOVE

1966–2000
LOVE WALL

LOVE WALL

1966–2006
LOVE

LOVE

1967
APOGEE

APOGEE

1970
ART

ART

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
ÀI

ÀI

2002
ÀI

ÀI

2002