The HOPE of Robert Indiana and The Travel Log of Ed Ruscha

Robert Indiana 1928–2018

My goal is that LOVE should cover the world. – Robert Indiana

On May 19, 2018, the day before Robert Indiana died,  a New York-based copyright holder filed a lawsuit, accusing Indiana’s caretaker and a New York-based art publisher of taking advantage of the artist. A settlement was reached a few weeks ago that could open the way for Indiana’s Maine island home to become a museum.

Millions of dollars have been spent on litigation in the past three years related to Indiana’s estate, causing the  state attorney general’s office to demand an accounting of the estate’s spending.

The bickering is a far cry from the LOVE icon that Indiana created in 1965 for a Museum of Modern Art Christmas Card.

After his death, at age 89, the curators at the Smithsonian went through their archives and found, among other things, touching stories of the life of the shy, seclusive artist. They also uncovered an early version of the Christmas LOVE card, which he sent to Dorothy Miller, the Museum of Modern Art’s curator in 1964, the year before he was commissioned to create the design for the card that became an icon.

In 2008, Indiana took the four letter word HOPE and created a series of prints for the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, which raised over $1 million.

Unique monoprints of Robert Indiana’s HOPE are available at VFA.

Ed Ruscha 1937 – present

When you’re on a highway, viewing the western U.S. with the mountains and the flatness and the desire and all that, it’s very much like my paintings. – Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha jokingly calls himself a “twenty-five year overnight sensation.”

He was born in Omaha, Nebraska and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Ruscha traveled to California to attend the California Institute of Arts and was immediately drawn to life in L.A. His work was popular in the 1960s and he was part of many exhibits, along with other Pop artists, but it wasn’t until the late 1980s, when Japanese collectors began to enter the contemporary art market, that demand for his work began to soar.

Ruscha currently has an exhibit at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art. Many of the paintings, photographs and books in the exhibit were done in the 1960s, when he traveled from California to visit his family back in Oklahoma. Ed Ruscha: Travel Log will be on display through May 30, 2021.

His work is also on display at the Oklahoma Contemporary in Oklahoma City. Ed Ruscha: OKLA, examines the influence that Oklahoma had on the artist’s style.The show will run through July 5, 2021.

Ed Ruscha is still painting and drawing, at age 83, in a concrete-built house in the California desert, which he had designed by Frank Gehry in 1976.

Please contact us if you would like information about the works of Robert Indiana, Ed Ruscha or any of the other fine artists whose works are available at VFA.


References:
Taylor Dafoe. A Battle in the Legal War Over Robert Indiana’s Legacy Ends as His Estate Settles With the Artist’s Longtime Representative. artnet news. March 8, 2021.
Village Soup.Knox. Farnsworth announces historic bequest of 27 major Wyeth works from Betsy Wyeth. April 16, 2021.
Associated Press. Agreement could free Robert Indiana’s estate from lawsuit. March 5, 2021.
Editorial Staff. Robert Indiana’s Former Home May Become a Museum, and Other News. Surface Magazine. March 10, 2021.May 30, 2018.
Elizabeth Botten. Archives Reveal Touching Stories on the Life of Robert Indiana, the Man Who Invented “LOVE”. Smithsonian Magazine.
Harriet Lloyd-Smith. Ed Ruscha’s nostalgic ode to Oklahoma. Wallpaper Magazine. April 2021.
Letha Ch’ien. ‘Ed Ruscha: Travel Log’ at Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is a rewarding American trip. San Francisco Chronicle. April 7, 2021.

Works of Modern Masters

End of the Art World, made in 1971, is a 16-mm film that documents the works of the most avant-garde artists of the 1960s. Now available on DVD, the movie ends with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the city of New York blowing up.

The film looks kitsch today, but the stories that brought the artists to New York, their influence on each other and on the art world are an important part of our art history.

Jasper Johns, who is still alive and working today, was just one of the many artists who moved to New York to work, study and pursue their careers as artists.

Johns and Robert Rauschenberg were two of the first artists who moved to Coenties Slip, a neighborhood in lower Manhattan along the East River. The old industrial buildings, where sails had been manufactured, gave the artists inexpensive spaces in which to live and work.

Artists on the roof of 3-5 Coenties Slip (left to right: Delphine Seyrig, Duncan Youngerman, Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Jack Youngerman, and Agnes Martin, 1958.

They encouraged each other to push back against the traditional art that had gone before, and use everyday objects and popular cultural imagery in their work.

Ellsworth Kelly, who was influenced by James Audubon’s drawings and his own experiences observing birds, created work that used bold, but minimal, colors and shapes.

Kelly inspired Robert Indiana, another Coenties Slip artist, to give up figurative painting and concentrate on geometric, hard-edge design.

James Rosenquist rented a studio in Coenties Slip in 1960 and went from billboard painter to pop artist.

Robert Indiana and Andy Warhol in Warhol’s loft, 1964

Although they didn’t live in Coenties Slip, both Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein were part of the pop culture in New York that moved art in America through Minimalism and beyond, so that artists had, and have now, the ability to explore and invent their individual styles. Many were also great printmakers, which is why we value their work so highly at VFA.

Works of Modern Masters at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about the featured works available at VFA.


References:
Kelly Richman-Abdou. Discover the Eclectic Influences That Shaped Ellsworth Kelly’s Avant-Garde Art. My Modern Met. July 12, 2020.
Retrospective on Artist Jasper Johns. The Garden City News. July 23, 2020.
Christie’s. LOVE story: the many sides of Robert Indiana. February 13, 2020.
Blanton Museum of Art. Kelly & The Coenties Slip. April, 2018.
Robert Indiana Prints

Robert Indiana: Mysteries Surround Artist’s Death and Estate

Robert Indiana died on May 19th, at age 89, at his home on Vinalhaven Island, more than an hour’s ferry ride off the coast of Maine. The day before he died, a federal lawsuit was filed by the Morgan Art Foundation, which claims to hold the rights to several of Indiana’s best-known work, accusing New York art Publisher, Michael McKenzie and Indiana’s caretaker, Jamie L. Thomas, of taking advantage of the aging artist.

“They have isolated Indiana from his friends and supporters,” the lawsuit says, “forged some of Indiana’s most recognizable works, exhibited the fraudulent works in museums, and sold the fraudulent works to unsuspecting collectors.” McKenzie and Thomas have filed a countersuit.

An FBI agent, investigating possible art fraud, requested an autopsy. Maine’s Medical Examiner’s office said that foul play was not suspected, but the cause and manner of death was ruled undetermined and may be changed if new information presents itself, which leaves the door open for future investigation. Indiana’s Vinalhaven Island home was emptied of art works for probate, but many pieces are still missing. A court hearing is scheduled for August 15.

The Irony of LOVE for Robert Indiana

Born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana on September 13, 1928, he took his home state’s name as his own after he moved to New York in 1954. Indiana began to draw at a very young age, was valedictorian of his high school graduating class, served three years in the U.S Air Force, studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art, before moving to New York.

The LOVE image became an icon when Indiana used it for a design on a 1964 Christmas card commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art. The image became wildly popular with the general public. Cities around the world commissioned Indiana to do LOVE sculptures and the U.S. Postal Service used the design for an 8-cent Valentine’s Day stamp in 1973 that sold more than 300 million copies, and became one of the best-selling commemorative stamps in history.

Indiana’s design was used on t-shirts, mugs, paperweights and posters, all without any financial gain for the artist, who didn’t have a copyright on the original design. “Everybody knows my LOVE,” he told an interviewer in 1976, “but they don’t have the slightest idea what I look like. I’m practically anonymous.”

To make matters worse, art critics and collectors accused Indiana of being a commercial sell-out and stopped buying his art. In 1979 Indiana moved to Vinalhaven and worked in relative seclusion. His 2008 HOPE poster, unveiled at the Democratic National Convention, renewed Indiana’s reputation and awakened a renewed interest in his art. In 2013, the Whitney held an retrospective of his work. Indiana’s will is being challenged. The legacy of his work and the future his Vinalhaven home are in dispute.

Robert Indiana at VFA

Please contact us for more information about The Bridge or any of the other fine art work available at VFA.

See More Robert Indiana Artwork for Sale

References:
robertindiana.com
Bob Keyes Foul play ruled out in death of Robert Indiana, but the saga is far from over Portland Press Herald. Posted July 20 Updated July 21.
Anny Shaw and Jillian Steinhauer Will Robert Indiana’s legacy get stuck in legal battle? The Art Newspaper July 19, 2018.
The Associated Press Pop Artist Robert Indiana’s Cause of Death ‘Undetermined’ July 20, 2018

Robert Indiana: In Miami, Selling MECCA

The works of Robert Indiana, and many other great mid-twentieth century artists, will be on display at the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum from September 28th through December 17th.

Included in the exhibit are dozens of prints from the Smithsonian’s permanent collection. In addition to Indiana’s work, there are prints by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, Mel Ramos, Jim Dine and Tom Wesselman, a roster of great artists whose work is for sale at VFA.

Selling MECCA

This year, the Milwaukee Bucks are celebrating their 50th season in the NBA. As part of the celebration, the team will play one game, against the Celtics, in the old MECCA stadium.

The MECCA (The Milwaukee Exposition, Convention Center and Arena) was the original home of the Bucks from 1968 through 1988. In 1977, Robert Indiana was commissioned to paint the MECCA floor. The Bucks will not be playing on Indiana’s iconic floor, which was removed during renovations in the 1980s.

There was a lot of controversy surrounding the choice of Indiana for the job and for his insistence that the design be kept secret until opening game night.

The controversy ended after the floor was unveiled. Fans loved it. Indiana’s design got world-wide television and press overage, and what was the world’s largest pop art painting became an iconic work of art.

The Bucks played in MECCA from 1970 through 1988, during which time they made the playoffs 18 times, went to seven Conference Finals and won an incredible number of games.

The MECCA was a relatively small venue, and the larger Bradley Center was built across the street in 1988. When the MECCA was redone, the floor removed and sold to an architectural salvage company.

In 2010, Bucks fan, Andy Gorzalski got an email from a friend, with an ad that read, “Reclaimed Gym Floor in Panels.” The floor was being sold as a whole or in pieces. Gorzalski, a young father of two with a new job, maxed out his credit cards and bought the floor. His goal was to find a buyer who would find a permanent home for the floor in Milwaukee.

Greg Koller, the owner of a struggling company called Pro Start, that installed gym floors, got a call telling him that the floor was for sale. Also a Bucks fan, who wanted the floor to stay in Milwaukee, he bought the floor. Sadly, Koller died of a massive heart attack a week after buying the floor.

The MECCA Floor Saga Continues…

Koller’s son, Ben, teamed up with Andy Gorzalski to try to find a home for the floor. Together, they reassembled the floor in the MECCA arena for a single night’s tribute. In 2013, the pieces of the floor were reassembled to create the MECCA Sculpture, which was unveiled at Milwaukee’s City Hall.

After many attempts to connect, Ben Koller finally got to visit Robert Indiana in his studio and hear, first hand, the history of the floor.

Ben Koller still owns the floor, and is still trying to find a buyer who will keep the floor intact, in Milwaukee.

Robert Indiana at VFA

Robert Indiana’s work has always been about bringing people together. International HOPE Day, September 13th, Indiana’s birthday, was created to help fulfill his desire to cover the world with HOPE.

Please contact us for more information about HOPE or any of the other iconic works for sale at VFA.

See More Robert Indiana Artwork for Sale

Robert Indiana: LOVE Restored

LOVE Restored in Indiana and Philadelphia

Robert Indiana created the most recognizable image in the history of American Art. His version of LOVE, commissioned by MoMA for a Christmas card in 1965, has appeared on t-shirts, mugs and skateboards around the world.

Indiana didn’t want to spoil the continuity of the design with a signature or copyright notice, so it was easy for others to market. He didn’t earn much from his most iconic work and was criticized for being a sellout by other artists, who may have envied the ubiquity of his creation.

Indiana created his first LOVE sculpture in 1970, which has been on continuous display at the Indiana Museum of Art since 1975. Years of being displayed outdoors caused corrosion to the sculpture. The museum brought the LOVE sculpture indoors, restored it and is now back on display, but it remains in an indoor gallery to prevent any further erosion.

The LOVE sculpture in Philadelphia’s John F. Kennedy Plaza, better known as LOVE Park, is being renovated, along with the rest of the park, and will be back on display in September.

LOVE sculptures grace many parks and plazas around the world, in many languages. Most everyone appreciates their appeal, but not many know their creator. “Everybody knows my LOVE,” Indiana said, in a 1976 interview, “but they don’t have the slightest idea what I look like. I’m practically anonymous.”

The Essence of Robert Indiana’s Prints

The messages in Robert Indiana’s prints are very personal. Not just a visual artist, but also a poet, every word, every combination of colors that he uses, are part of his history.

The bold colors that he combines in his prints were inspired by the Phillips 66 gas station sign, where his father worked. The red and green sign against the blue sky was an early inspiration. He uses the power of single words in his prints, in much the same way as he uses primary colors. “Love is a one word poem,” he said.

Indiana studied printmaking at the Art Institute of Chicago and is one of America’s premier printmakers. He works with fine art workshops in Europe and, closer to home, at Vinalhaven Press, near his island home in Maine.

Robert Indiana Prints at VFA

So many of Robert Indiana’s prints, especially his HOPE poster, (which was unveiled outside the 2008 Democratic National Convention and generated HOPE merchandise, which raised more than $1 million for the campaign), brought a renewed recognition to his art and to the artist. No longer anonymous, the demand for Robert Indiana’s prints has soared.

Please contact us for more information about HOPE and the other Robert Indiana prints available in our gallery.

 

Fine Art PRints: Robert Indiana

Politics and Patriotism in Fine Art Prints

American fine print artists have created some of the most powerful political and patriotic works in history. Shepard Fairey just jumped into the political fray with a new campaign poster.

Fairey’s work is tame in comparison to the print that Andy Warhol made when the Democratic party asked him for a contribution to George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign against Richard Nixon. Instead of a portrait of McGovern, Warhol chose to create a diabolic portrait of Nixon underscored with the hand-written message, Vote McGovern. Nixon won, but Warhol’s work, for sale at Vertu, is still one of the most powerful campaign posters in political history.

We tend to think about Pop artists as rebels in their day, and they were. But many of those same artists served in the Armed Forces during World War ll and the Korean War. That experience shaped their experience as artists and, in some cases, allowed them to continue their art education through the G.I. Bill.

Roy Lichtenstein was in the army from 1943 through 1946. He was worked as a draftsman and artist for the army. Lichtenstein was stationed in Europe, where he was exposed to great European art and artists. He was one of the artists who went to school under G.I. Bill and received a Master of Fine Arts from Ohio State University.

Lichtenstein did pilot training during his stint in the Army. His screenprint, Salute to Aviation, won a Purchase Award at the Brooklyn Museum’s 17th National Print Exhibition in 1970. It’s available for sale in our gallery at this time.

American artist Robert Earl Clark chose to call himself Robert Indiana, a tribute to the state in which he was born and raised. After a stint in the Air Force during the late 1940s, Indiana attended the Art Institute of Chicago under the G.I. Bill. His 2008 HOPE silkscreen was reproduced on T-shirts and other merchandise and netted more than $1million for the Obama campaign.

Indiana, at age 87, secludes himself, and his chihuahua, in his home in the coastal town of Vinalhaven, Maine. He he’s stayed out of politics since the 2008 election. When asked about the recent presidential campaigns by a Guardian interviewer, Indiana said, “I have, right in front of me as I sit talking to you, a Mexican friend of mine. He’s a chihuahua. And he’s very disturbed and very depressed watching TV. He’s sure that Trump guy is going to do away with chihuahuas.”

Jasper Johns, one of the greatest American painters and printmakers served in the army during the Korean War. Johns’ American Flags and maps are iconic images. Johns was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

We have several of Jasper Johns prints for sale at Vertu. One of our favorites is Periscope, which showcases his extraordinary use of color and design and his skill as a printmaker.

It’s not easy to imagine Robert Rauschenberg, a rebel in the art world, taking orders from anyone, but Rauschenberg was drafted and served in the Navy toward the end of World War ll.

His work includes images of and homages to iconic American people, places and events.

Rauschenberg created his Stoned Moon Series in 1969, the year of America’s first successful moon landing.  He was invited to Cape Canaveral, by NASA, to witness the launch of Apollo 11. The prints and writings he did in Stoned Moon Series indicate how profoundly affected he was by the event.

The Rauschenberg prints for sale at Vertu are distinctly American and attest to Rauschenberg’s skill as both a fine artist and printmaker. Artists have influenced the way we look at the world and the world has influenced the art they produce.

 

Robert Indiana Art for Sale at VFA’s Boca Raton Gallery

When contemplating the distinct characteristics of the American Pop Art movement founders, Robert Indiana very likely stands as the artist of deepest intent. While Indiana’s works contain the cool simplicity and broad appeal that defines the genre, his intentions have always carried a certain weight and sincerity that is considered by many to be a bit out of step with the mainstream Pop Art sensibility.

Outside of his worldwide famous sculptures, paintings and prints of LOVE, Robert Indiana is arguably best known for another one word recurring subject, EAT. The EAT sign commissioned by architect Philip Johnson, showcased in the1964 New York World’s Fair’s New York State Pavilion, bears the familiar composition of the screenprint hanging in our Boca Raton art gallery. Eat is an integral part of Robert Indiana’s body of work and is indicative of the artist’s highly personalized motivations that underlie the meaning of his art. In fact, “eat” is one of the last words spoken by the artist’s mother, literally asking Robert if he wanted something to eat just a moment before dying. Yet, EAT also represents universally American signage, such as that closely associated with restaurants, thereby lending it popular culture reference. This is the duality of Robert Indiana’s professional life as a Pop Artist. In this limited edition screenprint, the there is a sense of multiple degrees of depth created from the gradient background coloring and powerful lettering knocked out of black circles in the foreground.

Book of Love (German Colors) is a Robert Indiana screenprint that turns heads at our Boca Raton Contemporary Art Gallery. The power of Indiana’s LOVE series of works has been fully maximized by the artist’s efforts to see LOVE applied to the symbolism and language of nations and cultures around the world. In every representation, LOVE is bold, and perhaps even more so in the black, yellow and red colors that signify the German identity. With black and red dominating the negative space, this version of Robert Indiana’s most famous subject matter gives credence to the artist’s assertion that his art belongs to formalism every bit as much as it belongs to Pop Art.

The Yield Brother screenprint for sale at Vertu Fine Art Gallery in Boca Raton is a meaningful reflection of the original painting that Robert Indiana donated to the Bertrand Russell Foundation in support of the organization’s efforts to promote peace and warn against the dangers of nuclear proliferation. This iconic Indiana limited edition work is indeed a historic piece that demonstrates the artist’s ability to harness the power of words and symbols that hold tremendous possibilities for fostering change in the world and unifying people. The words, “Yield Brother,” dig deeper than surface calls for peace, legitimately offering the path to peace, to make way for differences and honor alternative views, allowing peace room for growth.

Another outstanding Robert Indiana limited edition print for sale at VFA Gallery in Boca Raton is from the artist’s Autoportraits Vinalhaven Suite 1980 series – Decade Autoportrait – Hurricane. Indiana’s Autoportrait works hold a special place in the hearts of serious collectors. Such art captures the essence of Robert Indiana’s love of numerology and symbolism combined with his bend toward cubism, hard edge and formalist design. Of the recurring themes that continue to pepper the landscape of the artist’s life, Decade prints continue to be some of those most sought after.

The works of the artist featured in this blog are only a portion of the Robert Indiana art currently for sale at Vertu Fine Art. If you’re a collector of Robert Indiana or other Pop Art masters, or simply share a keen interest in consuming such art, please visit us at our gallery. If you are a collector of Robert Indiana or require assistance for any Contemporary Art needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us, set an appointment or drop in for a visit.

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