THE ELECTRIC EAT, 1964–2007

Polychrome aluminum, stainless steel, and light bulbs
78 x 78 x 7 in.
(198.1 x 198.1 x 17.8 cm)

Edition of Five plus Two Artist’s Proofs

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

“Signs loomed large throughout my whole life. First there was the huge round Phillips 66 sign that rose high above the flat skyline of my hometown. I saw it and felt it every year of my youth there for it happened to stand, perched on two girders, on the very route that my father took to work each day for many years. It also just happened that he worked for the very company that it announced red and green against the blue sky. His sign: my sign. And it was about the highest thing (in my imagination) in town save the spectacularly ugly war monument that dominates the center of Indianapolis, surrounded as it is by a circular street called the ‘Circle,’ the city being elaborately laid in freshly hewn forests according to a European plan.

Not long after came EAT signs. Ubiquitous in that part of America they signal all the roadside diners (no DINE signs) that were originally old converted railway cars, taken off their wheels and mounted on blocks amid zinnias and petunias when the motor bus displaced the railroad in the ‘30s, and the cheap cafes (rivalled by CAFE signs). Some of the latter were operated with strict ‘homecooking’ by my mother when she had to support herself and her son during the Depression when Father disappeared behind the gasoline sign (66) in a westerly direction, leaving home and family for other signs. The son, burning to be an artist from the age of six, painted the window signs of those establishments. It was fitting that the very last word that she uttered to him at her death was ‘eat.’

Then, some years later, amid the lighted splendors of Times Square and the  millions of signs in New York, a few which covered the front of my studio building in the old Dutch section of Manhattan, came the architect Philip Johnson and the New York World’s Fair and his commission to do a work for his New York State Pavilion there—along with friends and neighbors, Kelly, Rosenquist, Rauschenberg—on the side of a circular building, part of the tallest and most prominent complex in the exposition. A black EAT came to mind and in order to elevate it to the spirit of the occasion it became an electric EAT, flashing its imperative with real energy. Too much so for the Fair officials who turned it off the very first day it was lit, and there it hung for two summers viewed by millions of people, but emasculated and tame. Too many had reacted, that first day, to the imperative.”  

— Robert Indiana

 

First published in Frank Popper. Kunst Licht Kunst. Eindhoven, the Netherlands: Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, 1966.

Medium

Decade

View

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
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
ORB

ORB

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
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