Indiana arrived at his high-impact graphic vocabulary during the late 1950s, working in the derelict studios of Coenties Slip at the southern tip of Manhattan. It was here, in the company of Agnes Martin, James Rosenquist and Ellsworth Kelly, that Indiana reacted against the extreme introversion and existential angst prevalent in Abstract Expressionism to form an art that reflected the geometry of the city. His discovery of commercial stencils in the deserted studio loft would go on to provide the matrix and format for all his future painting and sculpture, feeding an obsessive fascination with text, pinball machines and the commercial signage that covered the urban landscape. Indiana's attention to American themes, use of vibrating, contrasting colours and simple formal configurations quickly marked him as one of the central figures of the Pop art movement. His ‘one-word poems’ took sculptural form in the sixties; in an era dominated by the fight for civil rights, nuclear disarmament and the Vietnam war, Indiana’s sculptures became an emblem of the 1960s idealism, a symbol of love in the wake of fear.
AMOR is particularly symbolic of Indiana’s youth: the blazing red acts as a homage to the Phillips 66 gasoline company (his father’s place of work during the Great Depression) and the pristine blue reflects the expansive mid-western skies. The present work shares the aesthetic characteristics of roadside signs and signals that Indiana witnessed in his childhood; these signs became a fixation for the artist, who admired their ability to encapsulate intangible meanings, desires, and emotions in a straightforward and accessible presentation. Indiana’s striking sculptures stand as shrines to the achievements of our contemporary world, reminding us of our links to one another, despite differences in politics, sexuality and religion.
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