Robert Indiana’s Hartley Elegies (1989–94) is a series of 18 paintings inspired by Marsden Hartley’s War Motif series, which Hartley executed as a tribute to the young German soldier Karl von Freyburg, who died during World War I and with whom Hartley had a deep friendship. KvF XII, along with KvF VI and KvF XVIII, is directly based on Hartley’s Painting Number 49, Berlin (1914-15). Of the three canvases it is the only one which closely follows the color scheme of Hartley’s work.
KvF XII differs from Indiana’s five other diamond shaped canvases in that it does not contain a prominent circular image surrounded by a ring with text. It is also the only one of the diamond works that does not incorporate additional references to von Freyburg and/or Hartley.