Lot 15
  • 15

Robert Indiana

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Description

  • Robert Indiana
  • One through Zero
  • corten steel

Provenance

Morgan Art Foundation, Switzerland (acquired directly from the artist)

Acquired from the above by the present owner 

Catalogue Note

Robert Indiana burst onto the American art scene as a precocious young talent in the 1960s; he is today considered one of the most significant members of the new generation of Pop artists who overturned conventions and eclipsed their established contemporaries in New York. Originally born Robert Clark in the American State of Indiana, he changed his surname to his home state in 1958, just before he began his first ‘assemblage’ work: a genre he helped to develop and define. Initially creating sculptures from discarded wooden beams from buildings being demolished near his studio, Indiana’s constructions became more elaborate as he integrated into them old wheels and incorporated text and numbers using abandoned stencils that he found. He derived inspiration – and material – from road signs, route numbers and billboards, all of which were a ubiquitous part of his native mid-Western landscape. His assemblages resonated with Americans as an abstract exploration of American identity. What’s more, they spoke of a specific time and place in American history and as such formed a highly original and effecting body of work.

Individual numbers served as a central feature of Indiana’s repertoire early on and he placed a huge amount of significance in their appearance in his work: ‘Numbers fill my life. They fill my life even more than love. We are immersed in numbers from the moment we are born… by creating them, I’ve invested those numbers with a quality they have never had before’. He has previously suggested that the root of their personal significance lies in his childhood: by 17 years of age, Indiana had lived in 21 different homes. He knew numbers, frequency and repetition. As early as the mid-1960s, Indiana afforded numbers individual significance in his work outside of his assemblages, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that he conceived of the Numbers series of which the present work is one example. In its linear progression, 1 to 9 signifies the sweep of a human lifespan, with 0 the final point. This particular series of 6-foot-high numbers was exhibited in its coloured iteration along Park Avenue in New York in 2003 as part of ‘Art in the Park’; later that year they appeared in London as part of ‘Sculpture in the City’. The corten steel version was exhibited for the very first time earlier this year at the The Glass House, Connecticut. Their feature in American Sculpture: Beyond Limits is only their second public outing. Here the steel’s distinctive rusty hue brilliantly contrasts with the verdant surroundings and, in reminding us of its raw materiality, picks up on the concept of found and re-appropriated materials so crucial to Indiana’s famed assemblages.

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