The artist was born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana. He later changed his name to that of his native state. Between 1945 and 1955 he studied at art schools in Indianapolis and in Utica, New York; at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago, Edinburgh College of Art, and London University. In 1956 he settled in New York City and began to make vividly colored, hard-edged pictures. In the 1960s, he incorporated letters and words into his works, creating the bold word-images that brought him widespread recognition.
Robert Indiana has found his subjects in the words of American signs and highway billboards. As other pop artists who emerged in the 1960s, he appropriates familiar images in American culture and gives them a new look. One of his most famous images is the word "LOVE" rendered in various forms: brightly colored or black-and-white block letters in prints and paintings; large-scale polished metal sculpture; and even postage stamps.
In South Bend, the Gallery's lithograph, Indiana not only alludes to his home state and to himself, but also indulges in a visual pun in the turns of the arrow, pointing south. Through vibrant color and road signs, place names, and shapes that ricochet around the composition, he captures the energy of an American high-speed highway. Indiana's work includes prints, sculpture, and paintings, and many commissioned murals.
[This is an excerpt from the interactive companion program to the videodisc American Art from the National Gallery of Art. Produced by the Department of Education Resources, this teaching resource is one of the Gallery's free-loan educational programs.]