ROBERT INDIANA (1928-2018)
ROBERT INDIANA (1928-2018)
ROBERT INDIANA (1928-2018)
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ROBERT INDIANA (1928-2018)

Cardinal Three

ROBERT INDIANA (1928-2018)
Cardinal Three
stenciled with the artist’s name, inscription and date 'INDIANA 2 NEW YORK 66' (on the reverse); dedicated 'FOR GÜNTHER' (on the overlap)
oil on canvas
24 x 24 1/8 in. (60.9 x 61.2 cm.)
Painted in 1966.
Günther Uecker, Düsseldorf, gift of the artist, 1966
Herbert Lust, Greenwich
Acquired from the above by the present owner
New York, Stable Gallery, Robert Indiana, May 1966.
Minneapolis, Dayton’s Gallery 12, Robert Indiana, September-October 1966, n.p., no. 15.
New York, S 2 Gallery, Sotheby's, Robert Indiana: Works from the Collection of Herbert Lust, September-October 2017, pp. 34, 88-89, no. 13 (illustrated).
New York, Galerie Gmurzynska, Robert Indiana: LOVE Is in the Air, February 2020-January 2021.
New York, Shin Gallery, Amalgamation: Celebrating 10 Years of Shin Gallery, March-June 2022.

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Lot Essay

Herbert Lust’s analysis of this work can be found in Robert Indiana Works from the Collection of Herbert Lust where he wrote: The Cardinal Three must rank among Bob’s most exciting designs. His communicative power is so great in this painting, that he effectively humanizes a number while keeping the digit in its original form. The shape of the Cardinal Three resembles two spread arms, reaching out to embrace the world. He bestows a number with human qualities that make it feel like a figure walking off into the wild blue yonder. This Cardinal Three is the number series answer to the celebrated Hug painting. The top and bottom curves of the number three are the two arms reaching out to embrace. The Cardinal Three’s middle bulge strolls out like the human head. There is no number painting more beautiful than this Cardinal Three. It harmonizes the adult with the child in dazzling colors. There is a special meaning to the Cardinal Three, the most evident one is the urge to start. ‘one for the money. two for the show, and three to get ready…’ Ready? For what? To hug, to embrace” (H. Lust, quoted in Robert Indiana: Works from the Collection of Herbert Lust, New York, 2017, p. 88).

In 1964, Robert Indiana was the only American artist to be included in the exhibition, Group Zero, at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, the first major United States museum show of the international art movement founded by Otto Piene and Günther Uecker. Although Indiana is not affiliated with the movement, he and Uecker went on to become friends and later exchanged artworks in the late 1960s. Indiana gifted Cardinal Three to Uecker in exchange for an iconic nail relief, representing their relationship of reciprocity, respect and admiration.

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