THE TRIUMPH OF TIRA, 1960-1962

oil on canvas
72 x 60 in.
(182.8 x 152.4 cm.)

Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nelle Cochrane Woods Memorial

©2019 MORGAN ART FOUNDATION/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NY

The Triumph of Tira is a symbolic portrait of Mae West referencing the actress’s role of Tira the lion tamer in the 1933 film I’m No Angel. One of Indiana’s early word paintings, the work’s title, painted in the artist’s characteristic stenciled letters, appears below the four circles that dominate the canvas, and above a border of broad red danger stripes. Each of the four circles encloses a square or diamond, then another circle, and then a star. At the center of each is a three-letter word. The words, “cat,” “sex,” “men” and “law,” reference subjects specific to the film, yet can also be interpreted as signaling a multiplicity of other meanings.

Although Indiana referred to the work as a companion to his painting The Sweet Mystery (1959-60), it is compositionally closer to The American Dream #1 (1961), which, like The Triumph of Tira, is dominated by four circles enclosing five-pointed stars in successive frames. Indiana also cited West, “the most American bloom to have flowered on this ‘scene,’” as his model for The American Dream #1 in a 1961 Museum of Modern Art questionnaire. Furthermore, both West and Tira were women who escaped their humble origins to achieve success and their version of the American Dream.

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

1959-1960
SUN AND MOON

SUN AND MOON

1959-1960
FOUR

FOUR

1959-1962/1972
TWO GOLDEN ORBS

TWO GOLDEN ORBS

1959/2001
GINKGO

GINKGO

1960
RA

RA

1960
SOUL

SOUL

1960
OWL

OWL

1960
ORB

ORB

1960
MOON

MOON

1960
M

M

1960
GE

GE

1960
WALL OF CHINA

WALL OF CHINA

1960-1961
ELECTI

ELECTI

1960-1961
MARINE WORKS

MARINE WORKS

1960-1962
MATE

MATE

1960-1962
TWO

TWO

1960-1962
JEANNE D'ARC

JEANNE D'ARC

1960-1962
BAR

BAR

1960-1962
ZIG

ZIG

1960-1962
LAW

LAW

1960-1962
AHAB

AHAB

1960-1962
STAR

STAR

1960-1962
WOMB

WOMB

1960-1962
CUBA

CUBA

1960-1962
HOLE

HOLE

1960-1962
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
FLAGELLANT

FLAGELLANT

1963-1969
LOVE

LOVE

1964
LOVE

LOVE

1964
ONE

ONE

1964-1965
TWO

TWO

1964-1965
THREE

THREE

1964-1965
FOUR

FOUR

1964-1965
FIVE

FIVE

1964-1965
SEVEN

SEVEN

1964-1965
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
FLORIDA

FLORIDA

1965
MODEL T

MODEL T

1966
LOVE

LOVE

1966
666

666

1966
LOVE

LOVE

1966-1999
LOVE WALL

LOVE WALL

1966-2006
LOVE

LOVE

1967
APOGEE

APOGEE

1969-1970
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
AI

AI

2002
AI

AI

2002