“Each of Indiana’s newest pictures in his first New York one-man show in six years [Robert Indiana: New Paintings and Sculpture, at the Galerie Denise René] is a ‘retrospective,’ a summary, of all his emotional and esthetic experiences. But these are retrospectives in the very sense that each canvas, although all were painted in 1971, deals with the events of a single year, beginning in 1960. The basic form is virtually the same in each: a large circle set in a square canvas, with five points of a star touching the circle’s rim, and within the circle Indiana’s familiar stencil-shaped words, numbers, symbols, all seeming to gyrate around the recurring large center letters, IND.
The colors are bold, complementary, untextured. To those unfamiliar with Indiana and his career, all may seem to be well-painted Op-Pop paintings, or maybe even just vivid posters dealing with cryptic meanings and private recollections.
Except that on every level they’re far more than that. They’re stunning just as shapes, their color intensity and area juxtapositions weighed and balanced with infallible assurance to make compositions of tension, movement and a curious and touching purity.
But beyond that, the symbols, to viewers at home in the arts scene, are readily evocative. The 1965 “Autoportrait,” including the letters WHITE HOUSE in one sequent, brings back that summer day when the presidential mansion and lawn were filled with pictures and sculptures assembled for a “White House Festival of the Arts,” and artists, critics and others had dinner on the East Lawn, all the while bitterly grumbling about President Johnson and Vietnam.”
Emily Genauer, “Will Art Replace the Love Symbol?” Newsday (Melville, N.Y.), December 8, 1972, p. 11A.