Robert’s Picks | Robert Indiana: From A-Z at The Mitchell Gallery

The Mitchell Gallery, at St. John’s College, is hosting an exhibition of the important artist Robert Indiana. Indiana, along with artists like Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, and Roy Lichtenstein, is one of the seminal Pop artists who first gained international attention in the 1960s.

Indiana often adopts a common word such as “Eat,” “Love,” or “Hope” and paints the word with clean, hard edges. The artist gives the works an appearance (and it is only an appearance) of a stenciled, somewhat mechanical feel, rather than pursuing the cliché of “personal expression.” The paintings are more than just a single word, however. As in his “She” and “He” works, the words are structured as an intricate composition of shapes, such as a circle and star, which intersect or push into one another.

Indiana often works in silkscreen so that he can reproduce a word-painting almost endlessly and in various colors. Silkscreen allows for repetition; at the same time, the process inevitably leads to variations from one print to the next. Indiana has described his work, specifically his “Peace” series, as “one long poem.” The repetition of the imagery turns a common word into an iconic image. To clarify this point, consider that images of Christ and the Madonna, endlessly reproduced, were the most prevalent icons in the Medieval ages. Indiana creates an icon for our era by producing signage-like paintings that highlight three- or four-letter declarative words, such as “Love,” “Eat,” or "Die."

The “Love” image is Indiana’s most famous work since he produced it as a large public sculpture, as well as a postage stamp. The word “Love” suggests romance or other deep feelings about a person, object, or experience. In Indiana’s hands, the word is emptied of romantic, erotic, highly emotional, or even literary connotations, and presented strictly as a colorful iconic form, with the carefully rolling “O” giving it an exacting yet playful compositional character.

The exhibition at the Mitchell Gallery opens on March 8 and runs through April 22, 2018. For gallery hours and more information, visit


Book of Love, Red/Green/Blue (1996). Fabricated metal, powder coat, and silkscreen in colors, Series of 5. Edition: AP II.

ART (2013). Silkscreen in colors on triple primed canvas “ART” © Robert Indiana 2013
(Note: Was part of the final exhibition at the Four Seasons Restaurant, NYC: Robert Indiana EAT/ART)

Four Seasons of Hope (Gold-Autumn) (2012). Silkscreen print in colors. Printed on Coventry Neutral 100% Rag. Edition: 57/82.




Robert Haywood has a Ph.D. in art and architecture history from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His book, Allan Kaprow and Claes Oldenburg: Art, Happenings and Cultural Politics, is out now from Yale University Press, London. To order, visit


Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 9, No. 1 2018