Robert Indiana (B. 1928)
Property from an Important American Collection
Robert Indiana (B. 1928)


Robert Indiana (B. 1928)
gesso, iron and oil on wood
46 x 12 3/8 x 10 1/2 in. (116.8 x 31.4 x 26.6 cm.)
Executed in 1960.
Rolf Nelson Gallery, Los Angeles
The Collection of Celeste and Armand Bartos, New York
Their sale; Christie's, New York, 16 May 2013, lot 108
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
C. Weinhardt, Jr., Robert Indiana, New York, 1990, p. 71 (illustrated).
A. Unruh, Robert Indiana: New Perspectives, Ostfildern, 2012, p. 114, no. 68 (illustrated).
Austin, University of Texas Art Museum; Norfolk, Virginia, Chrysler Museum; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Purchase, Neuberger Museum, State University of New York and South Bend, Indiana, Art Center, Robert Indiana, September 1977-July 1978, no. 12.

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Joanna Szymkowiak
Joanna Szymkowiak

Lot Essay

This work will be included in the forthcoming Robert Indiana catalogue raisonné of paintings and sculpture being prepared by Simon Salama-Caro.

Alluding to the tenuous post-war political landscape, Robert Indiana’s U-2 commemorates May 1, 1960, the day which an American U-2 spy plane, hovering in Russian airspace, was shot down by Soviet forces. An embarrassment to the Eisenhower administration, the U-2 debacle marked a further deterioration in American- Soviet relations. Indiana’s assemblage U-2, along with many of his 1960s Herm constructions, demonstrates the artist’s political agenda, serving as an artistic appraisal of American foreign policy.
Bearing a white US Air Force emblem and the numeric signs “U”, “2” and “60,” Indiana’s salient mixed media assemblage is adorned with an iron carriage wheel. A weathered wooden beam sourced from a demolished building in Coenties Slip, the area in New York which the artist resided alongside Agnes Martin, Ellsworth Kelly and Jack Youngerman, constitutes the sculpture’s mass. Indiana embraced the damage and discolorations in his found material, considering the found wooden pieces sculptures in themselves.
Championing the tradition of assemblage brought to the artistic forefront by Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, Indiana pioneered a new form of unapologetic art. His 1960s Herms are the first works of art in which he amends signs, numbers, and letters onto found objects. In U-2, Indiana realizes the potential of found forms and fixed signs, levying a material critique that is at once critical and patriotic.

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