Robert Indiana on “Indiana”

 

Robert Indiana's "LOVE, 1967." The "Love" image was originally used for a Museum of Modern Art holiday card in 1964. © 2014 Morgan Art Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Robert Indiana’s “LOVE, 1967.” The “Love” image was originally used for a Museum of Modern Art holiday card in 1964. © 2014 Morgan Art Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Bob Indiana sits shivering in his museum home on the remote island of Vinalhaven, Maine.

“The pipes are frozen, the artist is frozen, everything is frozen,” the 85-year-old Indiana-native tells me over the phone.

Thirty-six years ago, Indiana, contemporary artist best known for his “Love”sculpture, removed himself from the New York art scene and set up shop in an old Odd Fellows Lodge on Vinalhaven — a move that took him even farther from his Hoosier roots.

 

The enigmatic man, who much prefers to refer to himself an “American painter of signs” than a “pop artist” (although most art historians would lump him into that group), has popularized a cluster of one-syllable words over the last half century. Words like “Eat,” “Hug,” “Die,” “Air” and “Love” have appeared numerous times and in numerous fashions on signage and sculptures across the country. But curiously, “Indiana,” the four-syllable word the artist most closely attached to himself, is the one he seems most ambiguous about.

Continue reading at Sky Blue Window . . . 

Outlandish Women

Claribel Cone, Gertrude Stein, and Etta Cone, Settignano/Fiesole, Italy, June 26, 1930. BMA Cone Archives

Claribel Cone, Gertrude Stein, and Etta Cone, Settignano/Fiesole, Italy, June 26, 1930. BMA Cone Archives

In the days when Americans traveled to Paris in search of the things that only Paris could offer, the artist Henri Matisse met the Cone sisters.  It probably saved his career, and perhaps even, his life.

Matisse was not well-liked. At least not in 1905 when the modern art exhibit Salon d’Automne descended upon Paris, leaving the art critics in shock. It was the advent of the brief period of art known as Fauvism. Fauve, translated: wild beast. Among the jarring, dissonant pieces on display were several works by Matisse, including the multicolored Woman with a Hat.

At the exhibit that day was the wealthy Baltimore-bred physician Dr. Claribel Cone, accompanied by her younger sister Etta. The sisters, ages 41 and 34 at the time, were spending an extended vacation in France with noted American expats, writer Gertrude Stein and her art guru brother Leo. Later in the day, Claribel pulled out her journal and penned her thoughts about the exhibit:

“We asked ourselves are these things to be taken seriously. As we looked across the room we found our friends earnestly contemplating a canvas–the canvas of a woman with a hat tilted jauntily at an angle on the top of her head–the drawing crude, the color bizarre.”

The establishment certainly didn’t take them seriously. Art critics of the day dismissed Matisse and his contemporary André Derain as “wild beasts,” who took little concern for artistic form, color, and propriety. But for the Cone sisters, despite their initial astonishment, curiosity had taken over.

Continue reading at Sky Blue Window . . .