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.

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