Sunday, October 21, 2012

Robert Indiana

Not a typical print in The Print in the Western World, Robert Indiana's LOVE etching and aquatint (1991) grabbed my eye (above).  Interestingly, the LOVE series began as an image for a MoMA holiday card in 1958, but its' popularity led to the production of post-stamps (below), silkscreens, aquatint etchings, and the well-known sculptures.

Robert Indiana, born Robert Clark, adopted the last name Indiana to strengthen  his identity to the midwest.  His text work is inspired by road and establishment signs that break up the characteristically flat midwestern landscape, and he uses his text to do the same in societies' flat habits.  Best illustrated by the post-stamps and city sculptures, the bright colors and bold letters of the word LOVE interrupt a passerby.  Robert Indiana also made work where EAT and DIE were paired together, but interestingly, the optimistic words such as LOVE, HUG, and HOPE have been more successful.  Other works such as painting the letter "M" on the Milwaukee Bucks basketball court and the Taipei 1011-0 (below) brightly colored numbers also insert text into routine like signs, but I find them to be less successful because they seem disconnected.

The optimism, simplicity, and ubiquity of LOVE create a positive, globally connected feeling.  It seems that Indiana has caught onto this, as demonstrated by his HOPE fundraising for the Obama campaign and his Peace Paintings after 9/11.  From a printmaking perspective, I find two things very intriguing: 1) LOVE began as a holiday card and transitioned from digital to traditional as well as cheesy to fine art.  But I wonder- were the silkscreens and aquatint etchings necessary?  I don't think so- what's the point?  Is not it successful as a card or post-stamp?  2) LOVE is a printerly sculpture by its' ability and encouragement to be reproduced.  How do relate printmaking to the sculptural object?

No comments: