Robert Indiana, ‘DECADE: AUTOPORTRAIT, 1969’, 1973, Alpha 137 Gallery
Robert Indiana, ‘DECADE: AUTOPORTRAIT, 1969’, 1973, Alpha 137 Gallery

This is a very desirable, uncommon limited edition signed and numbered lithograph (not to be confused with a larger unsigned edition), created in 1973 - when the artist retrospectively revisited his life in the year 1969. The late Sixties and early Seventies was one of the most influential era in the artist's career, and works from that time period are especially desirable. Many are already in major public and institutional collections around the world. This work is called "autoportrait", because it depicts Robert Indiana's self-portrait in words, colors, shapes and numbers, using his language of hard edge geometric abstraction. (As an aside, Robert Indiana always called himself a "hard edge" artist and complained that he has always been mis-construed and mis-characterized as a Pop Artist. He felt much more kinship with Ellsworth Kelly than Andy Warhol.) With respect to the colors and imagery of the present work, Indiana has said, " Nine is the number before death and yellow and black is beware danger. ’69 is of course is very conspicuous.And it is the year that I found the Star of Hope, and which is in the middle of the Penobscot Bay and E-L-I is many things. It is Eliot Elisofon. It is Ellen Elisofon, his daughter, who, who accompanied me to the island from Skowhegan, and I was still, however on skid row, which again, is the Bowery.” The words: "Hallelujah Vinalhaven" boldly featured in this lithograph refer to Robert Indiana's discovering his final residence in an idyllic place called "Star of Hope" in Vinalhaven, Maine. The words "Skid Row", as he explains, famously refers to the Bowery in Manhattan - a neighborhood famous for its bums, drugs and down-and-out denizens in the late 1960s - which Indiana left when he moved to Maine. The work also reveals the three letters "IND" in the middle -- to let the viewer know it is autobiographical. This is a very poignant and oxymoronic artwork, as the colors of danger -- black and yellow, and the cliche of Skid Row (always associated with someone down and out in he world), are juxtaposed in contrast to the "Hallelujah", and the hopeffulness of Vinalhaven. "Decade: Autoportrait 1969" is fully referenced in the catalogue raisonne of Robert Indiana's prints.
Note: the first photograph is a close up of the image, but the actual sheet measures 22.25 inches (vertical) by 14.1 inches (horizontal), as shown in the second photograph of the work framed. The present work is sold framed. Not examined outside of the original frame, but appears to be in very good condition. See second photo for the full work, framed. (the first, again, is a close up of just the image).
Catalogue Raisonne Reference: Sheehan, 78 (page 50)

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Signature: Signed and numbered in pencil on the recto (front). Publisher: XXe Siecle, New York and Paris; Printer: Fernand Mourlot, Publisher

Publisher: Publisher: XXe Siecle, New York and Paris; Printer: Fernand Mourlot, Publisher

This work has been widely exhibited in major museum and gallery retrospectives over the years. Most recently, another edition of this print was included in the exhibition "The Essential Robert Indiana" at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and it was also featured n a retrospective at the McNay Art Museum in Texas.

Catalogue Raisonne Reference: Sheehan, 78 (page 50)

About Robert Indiana

One of the central figures of the Pop Art movement, Robert Indiana takes his inspiration from commercial signs, claiming: “There are more signs than trees in America. There are more signs than leaves. So I think of myself as a painter of American landscape.” In his paintings, sculptures, and prints, he mimics and re-arranges the words and numbers of a myriad of signs, including the Phillips 66 gas station logo and the “Yield” traffic sign. He is most famous for his “Love” paintings and sculptures, first produced in the 1960s. Creating a block out of the word—with the “L” and the “O” set atop the “V” and the “E”—Indiana has effectively inserted his own sign into the mix. His “LOVE” painting was reproduced on a postage stamp in 1973; his “LOVE” sculptures are installed in public spaces worldwide.

American, b. 1928, New Castle, Indiana, based in New York, New York