Robert Indiana, The American Dream, 1997. Courtesy of RoGallery.

Robert Indiana: The American Dream Portfolio

Four years before he created his iconic “LOVE” motif, Robert Indiana gained his first major art world recognition for his 1961 painting The American Dream I, which was acquired that same year by The Museum of Modern Art’s director Alfred Barr for the institution’s permanent collection. Adopting the style of sign painting, The American Dream I featured an array of stars, circles, numbers, and stenciled letters, which held hidden symbolism for the artist. For example, Indiana included the numbers 29, 37, 40, and 66 to represent America’s popular highway routes, the phrase “TAKE ALL” to hint at the capitalist ethos of the country, and the word “TILT” to reference the pinball machines found in the diners and bars where his mother worked during his childhood. Between 1961 to 2001, Indiana created nine unique versions of “American Dream,” which contain nods to the painter Charles Demuth, the poet William Carlos Williams, the actress Grace Kelly, and more American cultural icons. In 1997, Indiana also released “The American Dream” print portfolio, featuring limited edition versions of the series in addition to a selection of his other famous motifs.

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