This work will be included in the Robert Indiana catalogue raisonné being prepared by Simon Salama-Caro.
Robert Indiana's painting, Art, 1972, relates to his famous Love series in that the painting's impact comes from its bold, flat, hard-edge composition which is more abstraction than representation of a simple word.
"This 'Alphagraph,' as it has been called, represents the voids of the letters as flat color areas; their linear elements exist only as tangent edges where they adjoin each other or separate from the ground underlying them. The A, a tall triangle, divides horizontally into two color forms at the level of its crossbar, creating a trapezoid below the color break. The upright of the R lies along the upper right slope of the A, and the luxurious curves of its right side mark the only departure from straight lines in the whole composition. The top edge of the T provides a base for the R, while its vertical stamp is simply another junction of color forms" (C. J. Weinhardt, Jr., Robert Indiana, New York, 1990, pp. 199-200).
Robert Indiana refers to his work as verbal-visual and his play with the words that he meticulously paints on the canvas activate an incessant volley between the initial visual response to the work and the brain's reaction to the text. Because each letter is so precisely executed and occupies a proportionate area of the canvas, the visual response is to read the canvas as an area of colored shapes, but the mind continues to decipher and translate the shapes into the word "art". Moreover, one thinks about the meaning of the word, and the act of creating art, of literally painting artwork. Indiana's seemingly simple composition, with three colors and two dimensional pictorial space, belies the intellectual rigor of the work.
It has been speculated that Indiana's play with the boundaries of the shapes and colors is also somewhat autobiographical, as someone who draws personal boundaries between self and other. Whether or not this is the case, this style of hard-edged lines, strict boundaries between colors and shapes and layered meanings has become Indiana's trademark style as well as one of the most influential contributions to Post-War art.