Robert Indiana: They [herms] started in the late fifties. Most all of them were begun in the late fifties—and when I say “late,” that’s really ’59. They bear the dates of ’60 or ’61 or ’62 because there was a process of change; that is, they only became what they are as time went on. They were not conceived either in polychrome or barren wood; they were found objects, and they were exercises in natural finishes like rust and patination of wood, and the harmonies were very close and very earthy.
I have always thought of my work as being celebratory. Let’s say it’s the three C’s— commemorative, celebratory, and colorful.
Donald B. Goodall: Well the found object in the herms—
Indiana: It’s archaeological. Oh, there’re definite traces of our history and civilization. These pieces of wood served a very peculiar function on the waterfront in New York. Archaeologically they’re very valid. They’re a piece in a jigsaw puzzle, and nobody except di Suvero and myself decided to save them at first, and he’s done so in a much different manner. These gorgeous pieces of wood were lying around for anybody to take and, as it turned out, very few people did.
Excerpt from Donald B. Goodall, “Conversations with Robert Indiana,” in Robert L. B. Tobin, William Katz, and Donald B. Goodall. Robert Indiana. Austin: University of Texas, 1977.