Robert Indiana, whether you are consciously aware of it or not, will forever remain amongst our nation’s most culturally pervasive artists for his 1964 iconic pop art print “LOVE.” As nationally ubiquitous as Indiana’s print is, re-appropriated from a MoMA holiday card to major sculptures and even postage stamps, Indiana and his later work have remained largely in self-induced seclusion. After his well-known periods of assemblage and pop art in the ’50s and ’60s, Indiana has been living and working in isolation on the island town of Vinalhaven off the coast of Maine since 1973.
Now, after almost half a century, Indiana is currently showing his first major exhibition of the massive wood sculptures crafted over this extensive period, entitled The Monumental Woods. While the exhibition makes use of wood as the sculptural medium as opposed to his popular paint and print images, Indiana engages similar motifs and compositional patterns employed in his earlier works, such as the use of text and assemblage. Text and numbers as symbolic referents have always served as significant modes of communication for Indiana to convey deeper historical meanings, both personal and universal. Paired with a repetition of circles (dubbed “orbs”) and the composites of found objects these motifs intersect to produce the sculptures on view at Galerie Gmurzynska in Zurich and later alongside a career spanning retrospective at The Whitney this fall. These monumental works demonstrate a fusion of Indiana’s artistic flourishing in the heyday of modern art in New York with his almost mythic relationship to the ocean and island refuge that has been his home. The exhibition exemplifies that Indiana’s break from civilization has not caused a major shift in the trajectory of his work; rather it highlights the persistent and conscientious circularity of Indiana’s constructions that have always been at the heart of his artistic mission.
The Monumental Woods by Robert Indiana is currently on view at Galerie Gmurzynska in Zurich, Switzerland. The works will be included at his major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, opening September 26th.