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Robert Indiana (b. 1928)
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Robert Indiana (b. 1928)

FOUR

Details
Robert Indiana (b. 1928)
FOUR
stamped with the artist's initials and date 'IND 65' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
11 7/8 x 11 7/8in. (30 x 30cm.)
Painted in 1965
Provenance
Herbert List, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1992.
Literature
Indiana's Indiana: A 20-Year Retrospective of Paintings and Sculpture From the Collection of Robert Indiana, exh. cat., Rockland, The William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum, 1982 (illustrated, p. vi). P. Restany, 'A Rare Collection in Israel', in Cimaise, revue de l'art actuel, no. 246, April-May 1997 (illustrated, unpaged).
Special Notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium
Sale Room Notice
Please note that this work is also included in: Indiana's Indiana: A 20-Year Retrospective of Paintings and Sculpture From the Collection of Robert Indiana, exh. cat., Rockland, The William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum, 1982 (illustrated, p. vi).

Lot Essay

Robert Indiana's Four is pure Pop. Bursting with colour, this 1965 work smacks of the energy of the buy-me, buy-me world of advertising that inspired so much of the Pop Art movement. At the same time, it has a concise nature that hints at a conceptual aspect occupying some strange hybrid middle ground between Jasper Johns and Joseph Kosuth (although the latter only began his famous conceptual works in 1965). The presence of the four letters spelling out the word that means the number implies self-reference and self-containment while also exploring the discrepancies and limitations of language. This is heightened by the controlled brushwork, itself a clear reaction to the vigorous brushwork of the Abstract Expressionists who had so dominated the art world until the emergence of the Pop artists.

Unlike Johns' and Kosuth's works, Four is in fact far from self-contained but very much refers to the world of posters, billboards, roadside diner signs and so forth that provide the backdrop of life in the capitalist West. Their idiom, their appearance and also their optimism have been brought out of the commercial landscape and into the realm of art, of oil on canvas. This optimism is reinforced by the fact that the presentation of the letters in Four recalls Indiana's famous Love series, with the letters piled two on two, one at a rakish angle. Despite being a painting, this composition in Four lends the work a sculptural aspect, as though these were the spare letters of a shop sign piled haphazardly, spelling out a word that we read. Through its depiction of this word, Four conveys a deliberately limited yet concentrated amount of information and, in its sheer simplicity, is imbued with a strong sense of its own objecthood.

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