Robert Indiana: I had originally intended it [The Brooklyn Bridge] as an homage to Stella because I’ve always admired reproductions of his paintings. When I saw the Whitney show and saw the actual paintings, I became so disillusioned with Stella as an artist that I changed the intention, and by using the text of Hart Crane for the lines around the bridges, it became an homage to Crane instead.
[ . . . ]
Arthur Carr: Do you have any feelings about how you would wish a person to approach your painting?
Indiana: Firstly, just as I suggested, just visually, Arthur.
Carr: In terms of form—
Carr: And color.
Indiana: Yes, reading wouldn’t even be necessary. But certainly secondarily, yes, I would hope that the text would mean something. Or the, whatever symbol I’m using, whether it be a letter or a number, but firstly the form and the color of the painting.
Carr: You would feel that form and color are more important in your choice of objects than—
Indiana: It depends upon the painting. With a painting like The Brooklyn Bridge, no, the content is probably first. Then, the form follows content. It is the Bridge and it’s the Bridge in all its gray and black somberness. In other words, when, when I first saw the Brooklyn Bridge, it was black. It hadn’t been cleaned. Then, should one, shall we say I don’t feel that the Brooklyn Bridge painting could be nearly as appreciated by an on-looker if he didn’t know the Bridge and know what associations I’ve made. But that’s, that I think is a little bit of an exception to most of my paintings.
Excerpt from “The Reminiscences of Robert Indiana.” New York, November 1965. Arthur C. Carr papers; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.