ONE THROUGH ZERO (THE TEN NUMBERS), 1980–2001

Polychrome Aluminum
Each, including base
78 x 74 x 38 in.
(198.1 x 188 x 96.5 cm)

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

ONE Through ZERO (The Ten Numbers) is a monumental example of Robert Indiana’s long-held fascination with the power of numbers, a subject which stands as one of his most important iconographic themes. Indiana credited his enduring interest in numbers to the formative experience of moving households multiple times as a child, having lived in twenty-one different homes by the age of seventeen. He emphasized the variety of meanings and associations that numbers can generate, and every number had specific personal resonance for him, related either to events in his own life (such as highway routes and buildings where he lived), or to the cycle of life itself, with the number one representing birth, and the number zero standing for death.

Indiana began to apply numbers to his sculptural assemblages and paintings in the early 1960s, and by the mid-1960s numbers as a subject in their own right had become one of the signature motifs of his painting. The Ten Numbers were originally executed between 1980 and 1983 for a special commission for a developer in Indianapolis; these eight-foot sculptures were subsequently donated to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. He then created several series of number sculptures in different scales and finishes, including this six-foot series, which was exhibited along New York’s Park Avenue in 2003 as part of Art in the Parks, and in London in 2013 as part of Sculpture in the City.

ONE Through ZERO conveys a characteristic blending of the disciplines of painting and sculpture that is one of the distinguishing features of Indiana’s work.  Like his sculptural interpretation of his originally two-dimensional LOVE, it suggests that the printed form has been extruded into space. The depth of the numbers, which is about half their width, gives the forms a monumental solidity that underlines the way the sculptures stand as a poetic condensation of Indiana’s engagement with the symbolic, allegorical, and formal aspects of numbers. As with the letters of the alphabet, Indiana’s Numbers can be arranged in different ways to generate different meanings through their combinations and juxtapositions.

The palette of Indiana’s ONE Through ZERO is also loaded with symbolism. He explained the choice of colors as follows: red and blue are associated with birth in ONE; green and blue signify infancy in TWO; orange and blue represent youth in THREE; yellow and red are connected with adolescence in FOUR; white and blue signify the pre-prime of life in FIVE; green and red signify the prime of life in SIX; blue and orange suggest early autumn of life in SEVEN; purple and red signal autumn in EIGHT; black and yellow convey a sense of warning in NINE; and shades of gray signal the end of the life cycle in ZERO. The use of contrasting colors on the flat frontal planes versus the contours creates a dramatic contrast of colors, which is amplified in the shifting play of the colors as one moves around them.

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
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