Beyond ‘LOVE’ and ‘HOPE’: Symbolic Screenprints by Robert Indiana

Pop was never so succinct before Robert Indiana hit the scene. Known for his graphic paintings, prints, and sculptures featuring bold lettering and iconic motifs—the ubiquitous LOVE and HOPE works, for example—the artist primarily developed his career around monosyllabic words in vibrant hues. Posters from his numerous text series feature prominently in major museum collections, among them the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art; several fantastic, lesser-known editions can be discovered at Vertu Fine Art.

LOVE and HOPE aside, Indiana created numerous other works exploring typography, shape, and color. In his “Yield Brother” series—both a reference to the yield sign, and an allusion to personal and political issues—the artist intended to convey the message of peace and brotherhood to all, as well as warning against nuclear war.

Another series, “Decade Autoportrait” employs the colors red, yellow, black, and blue to reference a number that is especially uncomfortable for the artist. “For me, the four is a dangerous number,” Indiana once said. “First of all, the four gave me the greatest difficulty as far as composing it within the circle...But numerically four, to me, is a difficult number because it’s sandwiched in between two very beautiful and special numbers…three and five. And I just can’t scrape up anything very good for the four, you see." In his print, Hurricane—from the Decade Series, the artist has chosen to interweave his own numerological superstitions (according to Indiana, when two people live next to two others, it often turns into trouble) with personal experiences and words. Each of the prints holds numerous layers of meaning, drawing viewers far beyond the Pop one-liners he is remembered for.

Haniya Rae

Explore more artworks at Vertu Fine Art.

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