Susan Elizabeth Ryan: What drew you to Marsden Hartley as a subject?
Robert Indiana: Hartley had been just about forgotten and neglected then, and since I live here in Maine, and he is one of Maine’s most famous artists. I thought it was proper to help revive interest in him.
Ryan: And are you using his Berlin images as the basis for your new ones, your “homages”?
Indiana: . . . Hartley did about fifty or so works in his Berlin series. I base mine on the examples in American museums like the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Whitney and Metropolitan museums in New York. I use elements of these paintings. His colors are strong and forthright, there’s no enormous nuance to deal with. Where nuances do exist, I eliminate them and transform his works into my own terms: hard edge and flat color. Some of mine are designed directly from his paintings, others I have recomposed. But then, as my own series progresses, the Hartley’s become less Hartley, and more Indiana.
Susan Elizabeth Ryan, “Indiana: Odes to Hartley,” Feast (July 1991).