This work will be included in the forthcoming Robert Indiana Catalogue Raisonné being prepared by Simon Salama-Caro.
With a spatial complexity and absence of gesture that sustains his message, Robert Indiana's canvases are visually and mentally stimulating. Developed from an intimately personal heraldry and one which has its origins in the Pop register of signs, Robert Indiana's Decade Autoportraits serve as poetic explorations of the many figures and places Indiana has worked with/in. Executed in 1971 and created in anticipation of his one man show at Galerie Denise René, Decade Autoportrait 1965, belongs to his triple series that celebrate the events of his life in the sixties and are considered by the artist to be a continuation of his American Dream paintings. Each painting within this series incorporates figurative pronouncements (words, symbols, and numerals) representing the chosen year in the artist's life. A reflection of Robert Indiana's broad knowledge of American literature and art as well as the political and social currents of the times, this series of paintings have been described by Sam Hunter as "commemorative and celebratory" (S. Hunter quoted in C.J. Weinhardt, Robert Indiana, New York, 1990, p. 147).
Multi-faceted and complex this outstanding example belongs to the intimately scaled suite of twenty-four inch square paintings. Using a palette of brilliant colors-French blue, white and red and a precise geometry of circles, polygons and letters the canvas provides a base for his personal language. A personal homage to his Parisian dealer Denise René, Decade Autoportrait 1965 reflects on an important year for the artist as it was the first time his work was hung in the White House. Updated with indicators of the year the Autoportrait was made and with the palette following that of a prominent Indiana painting from the year cited, it renders interchangeable the early and the late. In his painting, word is symbolic or literary. His words contain the roots of the elements that make up what is most intimate to him. For Robert Indiana the word evokes, emphasizes, denounces. In writing the name of some thing or being, he gives it time, allows it to be alive and survive.